GREAT FALLS - Many people will be out enjoying the 4th of July outside, whether it’s on a boat, a patio, or a driveway lighting off fireworks. There are plenty of ways to enjoy the holiday but it’s important to do it the right way and safely.
Great Falls Fire Rescue says they’re expecting another heavy call load after one of their busiest holidays last year. The agency responded to 57 incidents during the holiday last, including 21 fires.
“We know that everybody wants to go out and celebrate the fourth and have a good time. However, for us, we respond to a lot of different grassfires and injuries because of fireworks,” Fire Marshal Mike McIntosh said. “It's really one of our busier times of the year. We're always expecting a busy day on the 4th of July. We're hoping that with a little bit more moisture this year that we don't have as many grass fires as we did last year because it was so dry. Enjoy the Fourth. Be smart and have fun.”
Concerns also arise from the number of injuries and risks associated with lighting fireworks, which first responders say can have fatal consequences.
"They are dangerous. Make sure that you are supervising your children, and that you are doing it in a safe spot, on private property in a safe location, away from houses, people, and flammable material. Just be smart about it," Great Falls Police Officer Michael Nelson said.
"Leave the big fireworks to the professionals. The city puts on phenomenal fireworks display with some big artillery shells and some cool sites. We like to see some individuals shy away from those bigger fireworks because they are more dangerous," noted Great Falls Emergency Services manager Justin Grohs.
Great Falls Fire Rescue urges those setting off fireworks to take these necessary steps to keep yourself and others safe.
- Read Directions – Read the cautionary labels and directions before discharging.
- Discharge Outdoors – Always use fireworks outside in a clear area, away from buildings and vehicles.
- Keep Fireworks away from Others - Never point or throw fireworks at another person or place any part of your body directly over a firework when lighting the fuse.
- One at a Time - Light fireworks one at a time, then move back to a safe distance quickly.
- Have Water Handy! – Have a bucket of water or a water hose nearby to prevent a possible fire. Always remember to douse discharged fireworks with water once they have completely burned before throwing the fireworks away to prevent a trash fire.
- Adult Supervision - A responsible adult should always closely supervise all fireworks activities. Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
- Clean it Up - Always clean up used fireworks when finished (make sure they are doused with water!).
- Prevent Injury – Fireworks should never be carried in a pocket or be shot off in metal or glass containers. Fireworks should be used on a solid, flat level surface. Never use altered fireworks. Not only are they dangerous, they can also be illegal.
- Sparklers - Sparklers can burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees. Parents may not realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers.
- It Didn’t Light - If a firework does not work, leave it alone. Do not try to relight it. Pour water on it.
- Buying Fireworks – Purchase fireworks only from reliable outlets. Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper or packaging. This is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and could pose a danger to consumers.