Fourth of July Safety Tips

  • Published
  • By Jarvis Amos
  • 1st Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron Lead Fire Inspector
It's never too early to contemplate Fourth of July safety tips. Doing so can assure that you and your loved ones have a great time on Independence Day. After all, there's nothing patriotic about suffering injuries and going to the emergency room when everyone else is celebrating.

First and foremost, obey local laws. For example, Hurlburt Field Instruction 32-2001, Chapter 8.8.2 states ... the use of any fireworks is prohibited. Exception: Approved and or licensed pyrotechnic personnel contracted by the U.S. government or designated base representative who will be conducting displays or training exercises.

If you have questions concerning the legal use of fireworks off-base please contact your city or county fire officials.

Bottom line, if fireworks are illegal where you live, don't use them. Even if they are legal in your area, keep fireworks out of the hands of minors. That includes unlit fireworks.

If you live somewhere that allows individuals to use fireworks, proceed with caution and use common sense. The National Council of Fireworks suggests the following precautions:

· Follow the directions on all fireworks. Do not use them for anything other than the intended purpose.
· Don't attempt to alter, or combine firework products.
· Never use homemade fireworks.
· Report illegal explosives to the nearest fire or police department.
· When lighting fireworks, always have water handy. A hose is best, but a bucket will suffice.
· Spectators should remain a safe distance from the fireworks being lit.
· Whoever lights the fireworks must be sober, wear safety glasses, and keep clothing well away from the flame when lighting.
· Only light fireworks outdoors on a smooth, flat surface away from all flammable materials including dry leaves and paper.
· Never try to relight fireworks that malfunction. Wait up to 20 minutes for a possible delayed ignition. Then if nothing happens, soak the firework in a bucket of water and dispose of it.
· Dispose of all firework materials by first soaking them in water before throwing them away.
· Keep sparklers away from clothing and other flammable materials.

Holiday barbecuing also provides its own unique dangers you should be aware of.

· Before lighting your barbecue, eliminate everything that may be hanging overhead and move the grill a safe distance away from trees, buildings, and other things that can burn.
· Charcoal Grills: be sure to use starter fluid designed for charcoal barbecue grills and do not add fluid after the coals have been lit. Place ashes and coals in a metal container with a tight lid once they have cooled.
· Gas Grills: check all hoses for leaks making sure the connection is tight. Applying soapy water to the hoses will easily reveal any leaks. As soon as your meal is done cooking, turn the grill and the fuel cylinder off.

Also, please safely dispose of cigarettes in ashtrays. Whether tossed from car windows or dropped on the sidewalk, they start many fires each summer. This habit can be very dangerous if the weather continues to stay dry.

Lastly, I believe it's important to stress that a momentary lapse in judgment can have catastrophic consequences. Sound judgment must be exercised when dealing with outdoor cooking, fireworks, or any hazardous activity. And, adults need to ensure children are properly supervised during all of these activities.

For more information please contact Hurlburt Field's fire prevention office at 884-2910.