Taylor Fire Chief Stephen Portis and the rest of the Fire Department warn residents that due to extremely dry conditions this summer, the use of proper fire safety techniques is very important. Many Michigan communities, in fact, have restricted or banned fireworks and open burning altogether during this Fourth of July weekend.
Portis emphasized that lighting off fireworks more than 48 hours before or after a national holiday is a ticketed offense in the City of Taylor. He also doesn’t want residents turning the Fourth of July weekend into a hospital visit. Two hundred and forty people on average go the emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries in the month around the holiday.
Taylor Fire Marshal John Hager notes that when discharging fireworks, you are required to be on your own property. If you discharge from another property, you must have written consent from that property owner. Any fireworks being discharged in the middle of the street, from the church parking lot or behind the schools are in clear violation of that ordinance.
Fireworks also cannot also be changed or altered from their original design in order to get a “bigger bang.”
“I have witnessed someone dumping out all of the powder into a cylinder and then packing it down,” Hager said. “That is illegal, and very dangerous.”
When it comes to "Sky Lanterns," any release of the device is in violation. The manufacture advises on the packaging safety requirements that "no lanterns should be released within five miles of an airport" and the City of Taylor falls within that scope.
• Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
• The best way to protect your family is to not use any fireworks at home. Instead, attend public fireworks displays and leave the lighting to the professionals.
• If you plan to use fireworks, make sure they are legal in your area.
• Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.
Be Extra Careful With Sparklers:
• Little arms are too short to hold sparklers, which can heat up to 1,200 degrees. How about this? Let your young children use glow sticks instead. They can be just as fun but they don’t burn at a temperature hot enough to melt glass.
• Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities and closely supervise children around fireworks at all times.
Take Necessary Precautions:
• Do not wear loose clothing while using fireworks.
• Never light fireworks indoors or near dry grass.
• Point fireworks away from homes, and keep away from brush, leaves and flammable substances
Be Prepared for an Accident or Injury:
• Stand several feet away from lit fireworks. If a device does not go off, do not stand over it to investigate it. Put it out with water and dispose of it.
• Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
• Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
• Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
• Always have a bucket of water and/or a fire extinguisher nearby. Know how to operate the fire extinguisher properly.
• If a child is injured by fireworks, immediately go to a doctor or hospital. If an eye injury occurs, don't allow your child to touch or rub it, as this may cause even more damage.
Concerning the dry weather conditions that have plagued Michigan this summer, Taylor Fire suggests these techniques during the weekend and in upcoming weeks:
• Do not burn trash, leaves or brush outdoors Always create a “Safety Zone” around any fireworks or outdoor burning activities. Maintain a 30-foot or greater safety zone around your home that is clear of brush, tall grass, and other flammable vegetation. Fire moves more quickly up steep hills so extend that fire safety zone if your home is situated on a steep slope.
• Maintain your lawn. Keep trees and shrubs pruned around chimney outlets and stovepipes and keep your entire landscape mowed, raked and free of dead limbs
• Use spark arresters. Check and replace spark arresters – special mufflers that suppress fire-starting sparks – on any vehicle or equipment with an internal combustion engine. Use an approved spark arrester on chimneys and stovepipes to thwart the escape of burning cinders
• Store firewood safely. Stack firewood at least 15 feet away and uphill from your home.
• Cook safely outdoors. Barbecue and the south go hand-in-hand. Practice safe grilling by maintaining a 10-foot brush-free zone around outdoor grills and propane tanks. After grilling, place ashes in a metal bucket and soak in water. Never leave a grill unattended.
• Don't park on grass. Don't park vehicles and other motorized equipment on dry grass or near shrubbery. Exhaust systems can far exceed the 500 degrees it takes to start a summer brush fire.
• Have fire extinguishers on-hand. Keep fire suppression tools handy including working fire extinguishers, shovel, bucket of water, shovel, and a water hose that can reach all areas of your home and outlying structures.
• Teach children fire safety. Teach children about the dangers of playing with fire and make sure they know what to do in the case of a fire, including an evacuation plan for the home.
• Be Careful with Cigarettes. Don’t dispose of cigarette butts by tossing them out a car window or onto the grass.
“It's not enough to have a fire extinguisher,” Chief Portis said. “Know how to use it. If you have several, check the operating instructions for each because they do differ. Inspect extinguishers regularly.