Fireworks and dry conditions aren’t a good combination.
But with the Fourth of July one week away, all of Middle Tennessee is mired in a drought – with more scorching temperatures in the forecast. Monday is the only day before July 4 when rain is predicted.
After a somewhat cooler day Tuesday, temperatures are predicted to be in the mid to high 90s for a solid week and could reach triple digits this weekend. Fireworks are being blamed for a fire Saturday where a lawn caught fire. Grass fires can escalate into structure fires.
“Due to the dry conditions, any type of fireworks or other outdoor fire such as grilling has the potential to spark a larger fire,” said McMinnville Fire Chief Randy Walker. “Make sure a water hose is nearby any time fireworks or other outdoor fires are started. The water hose can possibly put out a potential fire at least until the fire department can reach the scene.”
It was five years ago, in June 2007, when McMinnville officials in a Safety Committee meeting considered postponing the Dr Pepper fireworks show because of dry conditions. However, a decent rain June 26, followed by a shower two days later, allowed the show to go on as scheduled.
U.S. fire officials say far more fires are reported on the Fourth of July than any other day. Fireworks account for 2-of-5 of those fires.
The Knoxville News Sentinel reports dry conditions led to five wildfires in East Tennessee over the weekend, two of which were significant.
In addition to the threat of fires, the use of fireworks can lead to bodily injuries to eyes, ears, and hands.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 10,000 people are treated in hospital emergency rooms every year for fireworks-related injuries. Children age 14 and younger account for almost 40 percent of all fireworks injuries in the United States.
Burns are the leading cause of injury from fireworks, followed by cuts and bruises. Fireworks can also cause blindness, hearing loss and permanent scarring.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 1,300 Americans injure their eyes using fireworks each year. One in six of these eye injuries result in permanent vision loss or blindness.
Bottle rockets cause some of the most serious eye injuries causing eye lid lacerations, corneal abrasions, traumatic cataract, retinal detachment, optic nerve damage, rupture of the eyeball, eye muscle damage, and complete blindness. If you experience an eye injury during a fireworks accident, seek immediate medical help.
With fireworks stands currently open around the county, here are some safety tips.
• Store fireworks out of the reach and sight of curious children.
• Always follow all label instructions.
• Never allow children to ignite fireworks without adult supervision.
• Don’t hold the firework in your hand or have any part of the body over it while lighting it.
• Only use fireworks as intended. Don’t try to alter them or combine them. Do not ever use homemade fireworks or illegal explosives. They can kill you.
• Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Have a designated shooter.
• Never throw or point fireworks at other people, animals, or homes.
• Always have water handy such as a garden hose, wet towels and a bucket. Use a garden hose to wet down the area before launching any fireworks and keep the hose close in case a fire should occur. Soak all fireworks in the bucket before disposing of them in the trash.
• Never re-light a “dud” firework. Wait 15 to 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
• Place all of the used items in a sealed, fire-proof container away from homes and buildings.