As Fourth of July celebrations begin, the South Bend Fire Department wants to remind residents to be extra careful when handling fireworks to avoid any accidents.
In 2014, the South Bend Fire Department responded to four fires relating to fireworks from July 3 to July 7, according to Capt. Gerard Ellis with the department. It’s typically one of the busiest days of the year for the department and firefighters across the country.
The best way to prevent firework incidents is to enjoy a professional show, Ellis said.
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“Consumer fireworks are dangerous and the risks to personal safety and the safety of the community are significant,” Ellis said. “Fireworks are legal in Indiana during certain times of the year. If you decide to ignore these words of caution and set off your own fireworks display, precautions need to be taken, and taken seriously. While pretty, fireworks can be very, very dangerous.”
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Even still, residents who want to use fireworks at home should adhere to state and city ordinances and make sure there are sober adults supervising the festivities. Residents should call 911 in potentially life threatening situations.
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Here are some firework safety tips from the National Fire Protection Association:
- Only buy fireworks from a licensed seller (not from someone on the street or from someone’s house)
- Read and follow the directions on the fireworks before lighting them
- Have water handy in case of an emergency, such as a bucket or garden hose
- Only use fireworks in an open outdoor area
- Light the fireworks on a hard surface and be cautious of any wind
- Have a designated person set off the fireworks who avoids alcohol and does not wear loose clothing
- Make sure that the designated person wears safety goggles and close-toed shoes
- Do not alter or combine fireworks
- Aim the firework away from houses, dry leaves, flammable materials and people
- Never extend a body part over the device
- Light one firework at a time
- Never relight a “dud” firework
- Wait 20 minutes after setting off the firework to approach it, and then soak it in water