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June is Fireworks Safety Month

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Guest column by Wesley Monroe

It is fitting that the month leading up to our nation’s birthday is Fireworks Safety Month as fireworks during the Fourth of July are as American as apple pie and, unfortunately, fireworks can be as dangerous as they are patriotic.

The National Council on Firework Safety reports each year in the United States, fireworks account for 20,000 fires, four deaths and 9,300 injuries. Of those injuries, 40 percent were caused by illegal fireworks and 45 percent were to children younger than 14. There is no reason we must give up our personal safety to show our national pride.

As our nation prepares to celebrate its 237th birthday, the Elizabethtown Fire Department wants you and your family to be safe while you join in that celebration and believe you an do so by following safety tips.

n Leave fireworks to the professionals trained and approved to use them. Public fireworks displays require proper permitting.

n The safest way to celebrate the Fourth of July with fireworks is to attend a public display. There will be a fireworks celebration on the Fourth at Freeman Lake Park in Elizabethtown.

n Do not allow children to handle fireworks. The temperature of the tip of a sparkler can reach 1,800 degrees and cause third-degree burns. It is illegal in Elizabethtown for anyone younger than 16 to purchase, possess or transport fireworks.

n Those who choose to light private fireworks should be experienced, be aware of state and local guidelines, maintain a bucket of water and a water hose nearby while igniting fireworks and soak all items before discarding.

n Use safety glasses when igniting fireworks, do not hold fireworks in your hand and aim away from people, houses, combustible vegetation and all flammable substances.

Last year, the Kentucky state legislature ended a 31-year ban on the sale and use of fireworks that shoot up in the air or explode, effectively making it legal for anyone older than 18 to use consumer fireworks if they are not within 200 feet of a structure, a car or another person.

The legislative change was made to recoup some of the money Kentuckians spend in Tennessee and surrounding states on consumer fireworks. This also makes it easier for authorities to monitor and track commodities that already were in the state illegally.

While the city of Elizabethtown accepted the changes to state law, in June of last year the Elizabethtown City Council approved a policy restricting fireworks discharge between 11 p.m. and 8 a.m. and restricted ignition of fireworks on city-owned properties without proper permitting.

As our biggest summer holiday nears, by using common sense, understanding fireworks guidelines and following these simple safety tips, you can help make this holiday safe for your entire family and community. If you have any questions, contact the Elizabethtown Fire Department at (270) 765-2121.

Wesley Monroe is fire marshal for the Elizabethtown Fire Department.