In July 1 Issue
With the Fourth of July weekend just days away, many folks in Russell County will be attending professional fireworks displays or setting off fireworks of their own.
The days are set aside by many as a relaxing, enjoyable time with family and friends but carelessness with fireworks can turn an evening of fun into a tragedy in mere moments, according to H.M. Bottom, Russell Springs fire chief and the county's emergency management director.
He said that he receives several calls each year around the holiday from parents concerned about safety tips for their families.
Bottom suggested the following tips for at-home fireworks shows:
Always read and observe label directions, remember to keep water handy, always have an adult present, never re-light a "dud" firework, don't give fireworks, including sparklers, to small children, stay away from dry vegetation, buy from a reliable fireworks dealer, never experiment by making your own fireworks, always light one at a time, always store in a cool, dry place and make sure and dispose of all fireworks properly after use.
Bottom said he has seen several injuries and fires result from mishandling fireworks over the years.
"This year it has not been as dry and that is a good thing for fireworks shows," he said. The risk of a fire decreases the more moisture is in the ground.
Bottom said most people will observe and follow safety rules when dealing with fireworks but there can always be accidents.
Each year, around 10,000 people are injured in this country due to fireworks accidents, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Ninety percent of all those injuries come from legal fireworks, a staggering figure.
So Bottom advised that the best way to protect your family is to not use any fireworks at home, period.
Independence Day, which is slated for Sunday, sees more fires in the United States than any other day of the year, with most fires caused by fireworks, according to national statistics.
The Kentucky state fire marshal encourages Kentuckians to attend community fireworks displays instead of celebrating with fireworks at home.
"Kentuckians who put on their own fireworks show not only run the risk of injury, but also may be violating state law," said William Swope Jr., Kentucky's state fire marshal.
"Kentucky law doesn't allow consumers to use the kind of fireworks that can be viewed at professional shows," Swope said. "For home use, the law permits only 'Class C Safe and Sane' fireworks. If a firework explodes or shoots in the air, it's illegal."
Fire protection agencies and associations across the nation are focusing this year's education campaign on sparklers, a product that many consumers deem 'risk-free.'
"People consider sparklers to be harmless, but they're not," Swope said. "They burn extremely hot - 1200 degrees Fahrenheit - and they can ignite clothing."
Class C fireworks include sparklers, cone fountains, ground spinners and noisemakers. Firecrackers and rockets are not legal for home use. Failure to follow these laws could result in penalties such as a fine of up to $1,000 and as many as 30 days in jail.
You must also be 16 years of age to purchase any fireworks in Kentucky.
The fire marshal's office says it may be safer for folks to attend a community fireworks show, if possible, Bottom agreed.
Professionals who have taken all the required safety precautions put on shows such as these.
Two professional shows will happen locally as this Saturday night, July 3, the annual Lakefest celebration on the square in Jamestown ends with a huge fireworks display at 10 p.m. Then on Sunday, July 4 State Dock and Jamestown Marina host their popular fireworks display between the two boat docks, beginning around 9 p.m.