Archived Story

Officials urge holiday safety

Published 3:25pm Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Holidays are often a fun time to gather with family and friends, but local and state officials are urging residents to keep safety in mind this weekend while celebrating the Fourth of July.

One safety issue that is always a concern with this holiday is the use of fireworks and potential fires that can be started by firework use.

Russellville Fire Chief Joe Mansell said the best thing to do is be responsible and cautious if firework use is part of your holiday routine.

“If you’re planning to use fireworks around the Fourth, just make sure to exercise caution, monitor the weather conditions, have a bucket of water or a water hose ready, and make sure all fireworks are extinguished completely before leaving them unattended,” Mansell said.

“You should also make sure of where you’re shooting your fireworks because if they land on someone else’s home or property and cause damage, you could be held responsible.”

Mansell said if a fire is started as a result of firework use, residents should notify the fire department immediately.

“Even if you are able to get the fire out, it’s best to go ahead and call the department because you never know if it might start back up after you leave.”

Mansell said from a medical standpoint, firework users should also make sure to read the directions for proper use.

“There is typically an increase in injuries around the Fourth of July due to mismanagement or lack of supervision,” he said.

“No one wants their holiday cut short with a burn or another injury.”

For those planning to celebrate America’s Independence Day with cookouts, the Alabama Forestry Commission and the U.S. Forest Service said fire safety precautions are also important in this area as well.

“We certainly want folks to enjoy their Fourth of July holiday, but we also urge the use of caution with outdoor fires, including campfires,” State Forester Greg Pate said.

“Wildfires can quickly spread out of control, threatening lives and property.”

Federal and State forestry officials have made the following recommendations for outdoor grilling:

• Do not dump hot coals from charcoal grills in, near, or around dry grass, leaves, or other flammable materials.

• Do not bury hot coals.

• Allow briquettes to cool completely; or, soak with lots of water, stir them, and soak again, being sure they are cold to the touch.

• Never leave a grill unattended.

“Wildfires do not stop at property boundaries, so we are asking the public to know the safety rules and help us protect Alabama communities.” said Tim Mersmann, Acting Forest Supervisor for the U.S. Forest Service.

Law enforcement officials will also be out in full force over the next several days to make sure motorists are being responsible as well.

Russellville Police Chief Chris Hargett said local patrol units would be keeping an eye out for people who have had too much to drink and decide to get behind the wheel.

“When you drink and drive or do other irresponsible things, it not only puts yourself in danger, it puts others in danger,” Hargett said.

“We basically just want people to act in a responsible manner so this can be a fun holiday for everyone.”

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