July 4th Means a Long Weekend for Many in 2016 – Tips to Stay Safe

This year, the 4th of July holiday falls on Monday, which means many people will be enjoying a long weekend. More people will be celebrating, having parties, and likely enjoying a few adult beverages. It’s a good time for most folks, but it’s important to focus on safety whether you’re having a few beers or planning a fireworks display of your own!

The Michigan Fireworks Safety Act makes it legal to purchase bottle rockets, roman candles, and other fireworks that can leave the ground and shoot into almost any direction. This means that any time you’re shooting off fireworks, there is a risk to adults, children, and even animals or property. Naturally, the more powerful or large a firework is, the greater the risk of injury.

Last year, more than 20,000 individuals signed an online petition calling for repeal of the state’s consumer-grade fireworks law due to not only fire and injury concerns, but even the noise and distraction caused by fireworks. In 2015, there were 67 emergency room visits as of July 8th that were linked to injuries caused by fireworks; one man died after holding a large mortar fireworks shell to his head, according to news reports.

How can you make the July 4th 2016 holiday safer? Here are a few safety tips:

  • First, never let young children handle fireworks. Even though sparklers seem harmless, the sparks they give off can hit a child in the eyes, especially if he/she is holding two or three sparklers.
  • Lots of fireworks are defective; if a firework doesn’t go off as it’s designed to do or fizzles, don’t try to figure out what the problem is. Instead, drop it into a bucket of water.
  • Only buy fireworks that are legal for consumer use in Michigan – better yet, plan on attending a fireworks show rather than setting them off on your own.
  • Be aware of potential fire risks when conditions are dry. A grass fire can easily occur in dry conditions.
  • In residential areas stick to smaller fireworks and avoid large roman candles or other items that could potentially land on a neighbor’s home. Also be conscious of how fireworks can disturb other people’s pets, and the neighbors if you’re shooting them off into the early morning hours.
  • Wear long sleeves and pants to protect skin, and safety glasses to protect eyes. It’s also a good idea to have a fire extinguisher nearby.
  • For larger mortars, pay close attention that fireworks are being set off in an area that’s clear of buildings and crowds; also check the length of the wick before igniting to ensure you can get away quickly.
  • If you’re setting off fireworks with family, friends, or neighbors, make sure all of the spectators are a good distance away to avoid possible injury.
  • When cleaning up debris from fireworks, soak everything in a bucket of water for 24 hours before disposal to ensure you don’t accidentally start a fire.

Having a few drinks to celebrate Independence Day?

If you intend to have a few beers or other adult beverages, let someone else who isn’t partaking set off the fireworks while you sit back and enjoy.

Don’t drive when drinking. You may believe you’re perfectly capable of operating your vehicle, but even two beers can be too much depending on a person’s weight and tolerance. Be on the safe side, and stay put or have someone else drive you to your destination. You can also consider calling a cab.

If you find yourself arrested for driving under the influence, consult with an experienced drunk driving attorney immediately. Driving while under the influence of alcohol is a crime in Michigan; if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08 percent or above, you could face criminal charges.

The 4th of July is a fun time whether you’re camping, having a barbecue for friends and neighbors, getting together with family to enjoy the fireworks, or just relaxing and enjoying some extra time off work. Be safe, and end the long holiday weekend on a good note.

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