Be safe when using fireworks
by Elsie Hodnett
The Pell City Police and Fire chiefs want to stress safety when using personal fireworks so residents have a safe and enjoyable holiday.

“Fireworks have become an integral part of the Fourth of July holiday, and the most important thing both chiefs want to stress is safety,” said Pell City Police Public Information Officer Sgt. Don Newton. “Fireworks are explosive and incendiary devices and therefore pose a risk to all who use them. Great care must be observed in deploying these devices.

Fire Chief Mike Burdette said that perhaps the most important safety tip is to have sober adult supervision at all times, due to the risk of explosions and burns.

“Eye injuries are especially prevalent with fireworks, and I really want to emphasize that people should use safety glasses and never stand over a firework-type device,” he said.

Police Chief Greg Turley said while shooting fireworks is not illegal in Pell City, it is illegal to sell fireworks in Pell City.

“I hope people will be courteous and respectful of others with fireworks, not shooting towards people or houses and not firing them off after a reasonable hour,” he said. “While shooting fireworks is not illegal, improper use can result in disturbance charges and the possibility of civil liability for damages.”

Burdette said residents should be aware of weather conditions and the location where they are shooting off fireworks.

“This time of year, it is easy for conditions to be come dry and a fire threat,” he said. “The Pell City Fire Department follows Alabama State Forestry guidelines, which are monitored daily, in regard to issue warnings relative to the level of fire hazard. If conditions become bad enough, we can issue a no fireworks order due to safety concerns.”

Turley said there are also safety concerns over the use of floating candle lanterns, which are basically miniature hot air balloons made of paper or similar lightweight material and powered by a candle.

“Besides being a fire risk, these lanterns can be a hazard for pilots and are illegal to use near airports,” he said.

Newton said it is important to remember the following:

• Adult supervision.

• Eye protection.

• Be aware of environmental conditions.

• Courtesy.

“The chiefs want everyone to have a great time, but to be safe and remember—what goes up must come down,” he said.

The Alabama Forestry Commission also wants to remind everyone to observe safety precautions with the holiday cookouts and fireworks.

"We want everyone to enjoy their celebration, but we also urge the use of caution with all debris burning and outdoor fires, including campfires and fireworks," said State Forester Linda Casey.

Forestry officials recommend people avoid shooting fireworks in or near dry grass, leaves or other combustible materials. Thoroughly soak the area with water where fireworks are to be discharged and have a garden hose or other source of water nearby. The same preventive measures apply when using charcoal grills. Do not dump hot coals in, near or around dry grass, leaves or other flammable materials. Allow briquettes to cool completely or soak them with lots of water, stir them, soak them again and be sure they are cold to the touch. Never leave a grill unattended.

Forestry officials said if a fire does start, they strongly recommend that you do not attempt to fight it yourself. Instead, call 911 immediately, then wait in a safe place for the arrival of the local fire department
© 2013