Dave Wordekemper hopes local residents play it safe when it comes to July Fourth fireworks.
Independence Day is one of the busiest days of the year for firefighters, said Wordekemper, a member of the Fremont Fire Department.
The best way to enjoy fireworks and prevent injury is to watch a professional show.
In Fremont, the fireworks display is set to start at 10 p.m. Wednesday at Christensen Field. This is the 18th year for the event, which is free and open to the public.
Other area communities also have fireworks displays. For instance, Hooper’s fireworks display is scheduled to start at 9:30 p.m. Thursday.
“There’s plenty of activities that professionals put on that you can do and not have to do yourself,” said Wordekemper, president of the Fremont Fire Fighters Local 1015.
Wordekemper noted something else.
“Consumer fireworks are dangerous and the risks to personal safety and the safety of the community are significant,” Wordekemper said.
He notes other statistics.
More fires are reported on the Fourth of July than any other day of the year. Two out of five are fireworks-related incidents, states data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
Fireworks were involved in an estimated 10,500 injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments each year, states a 2015 report by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Celebrating the Fourth of July with fireworks, cookouts and community events quickly can turn to disaster if proper precautions aren’t taken.
Children especially are at risk.
Of those injured, 35 percent of victims with fireworks injuries were under age 15.
Children should never play with fireworks. Even sparklers can reach 1200 degrees Fahrenheit.
“Fireworks are legal in Fremont; Legal or not, if you decide to ignore these words of caution and set off your own fireworks display, precautions need to be taken, and taken seriously,” Wordekemper said in a prepared statement. “While pretty, fireworks can be very, very dangerous.”
Residents are asked to please only call 9-1-1 for potentially life-threatening situations so firefighters can be available to respond quickly when lives are in danger.
For more information about fireworks safety, visit http://www.nfpa.org/fireworks.
“We want everybody to have an enjoyable Fourth and not have an injury,” Wordekemper told the Tribune.
Wordekemper pointed out the importance of having water available.
If citizens are lighting fireworks, disposing of them properly by putting them in a bucket of water or spraying with a garden hose before putting in the trash container may reduce the risk of a fire hazard, he said.
For those who insist on setting off their own fireworks, the NFPA recommends taking these precautions.
The July Fourth public safety checklist includes:
- Only buy fireworks from a licensed seller (not from someone on the street or from someone’s house).
- Read and follow the directions on the fireworks before lighting them.
- Only use fireworks in an open, outdoor area.
- Light the fireworks on a hard surface and be cautious of any wind.
- Have a designated person to set off the fireworks who avoids alcohol and does not wear loose clothing.
- Make sure that the designated person wears safety goggles and close-toed shoes.
- Do not alter or combine fireworks.
- Aim the firework away from houses, dry leaves, flammable materials and people.
- Never extend a body part over the device.
- Light one firework at a time.
- Never relight a “dud” firework.
- Wait 20 minutes after setting off the firework to approach it and then soak it in water.