Staying Safe; Police provide tips for safe Fourth of July holiday

Published 5:46 pm Friday, June 28, 2019

LANETT —The Fourth of July is fast-approaching and local law enforcement officers want to remind those shooting off fireworks to be safe during the holiday.

Lanett Patrol Commander Richard Casner said this is a busy time for many police departments as their call volume skyrockets.

“We get a lot of shots fired calls around this time of year, so we are really busy,” he said. “We ask residents to be patient with us on response times, especially when there are a lot of fireworks going off.”

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Casner said officers in Lanett will have to prioritize their calls during the holiday week, going to the most serious calls first. However, he understands it can be hard to tell the difference between a gunshot and firework going off if people don’t have experience around guns.

He said the general rule for those shooting off fireworks is to stop lighting them around midnight.

“We do give some leeway on the Fourth and use our discretion,” Casner said.

He said people launching fireworks over somebody’s house or into several trees is something to avoid.

“They have to be careful about which way they are launching them because once you get them high enough, the wind is a bit different and you don’t know where it’s going,” Casner said.

Another safety concept is to make sure children aren’t lighting fireworks and monitor them when playing with sparklers, he said.

According to the National Safety Council, sparklers burn at about 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt some metals.

“Sparklers can quickly ignite clothing, and children have received severe burns from dropping sparklers on their feet,” the NSC website says.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, sparklers alone account for more than 25 percent of emergency room visits for fireworks injuries. For children under 5 years of age, sparklers account for nearly half of the total estimated injuries.

The NSC also said in 2017, eight people died and over 12,000 were injured badly enough to require medical treatment after fireworks-related incidents. Of these, 50 percent of the injuries were to children and young adults under 20 years old. The majority of these incidents were due to amateurs attempting to use professional-grade, homemade or other illegal fireworks or explosives, but an estimated 1,200 injuries were from less powerful devices, like small firecrackers and sparklers.

Another aspect of the Fourth of July, Casner said, is impaired driving. He said the Lanett Police Department will be on the lookout for impaired driving and he suspects all other police departments will be as well.

“Our guys gear up around these times,” he said. “We have a group of guys in traffic enforcement who are good at it.”

He said it’s best to just not drink and drive and to make additional accommodations if alcohol is involved in celebrations.

“It only takes about 30 minutes to wait for a ride,” Casner said.

The roads will also be busier during the holiday.

According to AAA, about 49 million people are planning to make a trip during the holiday season. Overall, travel volume for the holiday is expected to rise 4.1 percent above last year, with an additional 1.9 million people planning road trips and other vacations.

“As Independence Day approaches, it’s time for the much-loved family road trip and this year will be one for the record books, with more Americans than ever planning vacations,” said Paula Twidale, vice president of AAA Travel. “This holiday builds on the strong travel demand seen for Memorial Day, and with schools now out of session across the country, families coast to coast are eager to travel.”

For more information about firework safety, visit