Authorities caution about July 4th dangers
As Independence Day nears, authorities urge caution as Americans celebrate and travel.
Across the nation, July 4th is not only the busiest day of the year for fireworks, it’s the busiest day of the year for fires, says Missouri State Fire Marshal Tim Bean, adding, “It’s no coincidence.”
Fireworks start an average of 18,500 fires a year, according to the National Fire Protection Association. About 40 percent of Independence Day structure fires are the result of fireworks.
And about 250 people go to emergency rooms each day with fireworks-related injuries in the month around July 4th.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, across the U.S. in 2017:
• Eight people died as the result of fireworks (seven from direct fireworks impacts and one in a house fire caused by a firecracker).
• 12,900 injuries were treated in hospital emergency departments.
• An estimated 1,200 emergency department-treated injuries were attributed to sparklers and 300 to bottle rockets.
• Children under 15 years of age accounted for 36 percent of the 2017 injuries.
Those who choose to use consumer fireworks are reminded to:
• Make sure to have a garden hose or a bucket of water nearby.
• Only light fireworks one at a time; never try to re-light fireworks that malfunction.
• Dispose of fireworks by soaking them in water and leaving them in a trash can.
• Never shoot fireworks from a glass jar or container.
• Never store fireworks from season to season.
See additional fireworks safety tips at https://dfs.dps.mo.gov/safetytips/fireworks-safety.php
For questions or concerns about fireworks safety, rules or dealers, contact the Missouri Division of Fire Safety at 573-751-2930.
On the road … and the water
The Missouri State Highway Patrol said in a news release that, during the 30-hour July 4th counting period in 2018, four people were killed and 220 were injured in Missouri in 437 traffic crashes. Troopers arrested 40 people for driving while intoxicated.
The 2019 counting period begins at 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 3, and continues to 11:59 p.m. Sunday, July 7. During that time, MSHP will conduct a DWI Enforcement operation as troopers strictly enforce Missouri statutes addressing driving while intoxicated, underage drinking, possession of intoxicating liquor by a minor and intoxication by a minor.
Also, all available officers will be patrolling Missouri’s roadways to enforce Missouri’s traffic laws in addition to being available to assist motorists, MSHP said.
To contact the nearest MSHP headquarters while traveling, dial *55 on a cell phone or call 1-800-525-5555.
MSHP Superintendent Col. Eric T. Olson also reminds residents that the Fourth of July holiday is one of the busiest boating holidays of the year – and that many Missouri lakes and streams are experiencing high-water conditions.
“High water often creates additional debris in the water, so boaters should maintain a proper lookout for potential hazards,” Olson said.
Troopers will be working on the state’s waterways during the holiday period. Boaters are reminded that it is illegal to discharge fireworks from a vessel.
Swimmers are also cautioned. Three people drowned during last year’s July Fourth holiday.