Have fun and stay safe this Fourth of July
RAPID CITY, S.D. – Fireworks are one of the most anticipated events of the summer. It’s hard to imagine a Fourth of July holiday without them. It’s an American tradition that’s both fun and exciting, but fireworks can be dangerous. To make the most out of your Fourth of July holiday make sure safety measures are in place when celebrating this year.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, each year fireworks start over 19,000 fires and send over 9,000 people, most often children and teens, to the emergency room.
In the state of South Dakota fireworks can be sold from June 27 to July 5 and discharged from June 27 – July 10. Fireworks are not allowed in the Black Hills Fire Protection District or in Rapid City, city limits and within a one-mile radius from Rapid City, city limits. Hill City, Keystone, and Wall also do not allow fireworks within city limits. Box Elder allows fireworks, July 2-4 between 9 a.m. – 11 p.m.
The illegal use of fireworks is an offense punishable by a fine of up to $500, 30-days in jail, or both. City and County law enforcement will have an increased evening presence in areas within the one-mile radius of the Rapid City city limits, including portions of Rapid Valley. Citations may be issued after 11 p.m. or any time of day when someone is reckless or negligent with fireworks.
Pennington County Sheriff’s Office Patrol Lieutenant Chris Hislip said that the Sheriff’s Office usually has issues that require law enforcement intervention, especially in Rapid Valley.
“So what will elicit a law enforcement response? We ask for safe operation. So do not block roads. Do not shoot fireworks at each other or at houses. Make sure that you have permission to fire, shoot off the fireworks on the property that you’re on. No shooting from moving vehicles or at moving vehicles. And then children need to be supervised. We do see an increase in major injuries to children who are unsupervised for dud fireworks or unsafe fire during that time. So in years past, we have seen also an increase in fires that threatened homes. And so it’s important to pay attention to that. Always have a water source available in case something goes awry,” said Lt. Hislip.
“So we ask citizens, especially out in Rapid Valley, to not discharge fireworks after 11 p.m. at night. And this meets a balance, so folks can have fun safely but also have some consideration for your neighbors. Since this Fourth of July is on a Monday, it’s on a weekday, many people have to work the next day. So we want to be courteous to our neighbor and allow them some quiet time,” he said. “So on July 4th, we’re going to have additional saturation patrols. So that means that we’re going to have additional deputies out there to focus solely on fireworks. And they will shut down fireworks after 11 for sure. And we’ll respond directly to any of those types of incidents that demand our attention.”
The Pennington County Sheriff’s Office also encourages citizens to clean up firework trash immediately after discharging them.
“It’s unsafe for our motorcycles and our children for unexploded fireworks and things like that. So clean up after yourself, be courteous, be a good neighbor and do that right afterwards,” said Lt. Hislip. “We ask to not block roadways and to be considerate of what the roads are made for, and that’s for the traveling public.”
Fireworks can get dangerous really quickly. They go off at extremely high temperatures, can be unpredictable – exploding unexpectedly or going off in the wrong direction, and can cause serious burns and injuries. The most dangerous fireworks aren’t what you would expect. Sparklers are the number one cause of injury each year.
“Sparklers are great and they’re fun, but they burn at 2000 degrees and can cause some real serious injury,” said Tom Skoog, Owner of Big Fireworks. “We have six kids of our own. They range from 13 all the way down to eight months and all of them, except maybe the baby really love fireworks. So safety is very important to us. We’re very strict with some things.”
The most common injuries from fireworks are burns to the hands and face. More severe injuries include blindness, loss of limbs and even death can occur with misuse.
“Be real careful when you’re lighting a firework. You never bend over it because a short fuse can blow up in your face. Adult supervision is always necessary with kids. Never assume a firework has went off. I always assume that it could go off at any second. It’s easy to lose a finger when you don’t approach it that way. Keep a good distance away. If you’re lighting fireworks, especially the big stuff, you know, 100 feet away, it’s probably ideal minimum distance just for everyone,” said Skoog.
“Have some water nearby if you can. You know, it’s been a nice wet year, which is great. We’re excited about that but a fire can start. So it’s good to have some type of, extinguisher or bucket of water or something. And when you’re done lighting, fireworks definitely douse them with water. I had a guy last year that had bought some fireworks. When they were all done with them they set them by a barn in a bucket, a little breeze caught up, stoked up some of the flames and burnt down the barn. So it can happen. Make sure you got them thoroughly put out,” advised Skoog.
“Obviously, let’s have a good time. We’ll have some beverages, eat some hot dogs and hamburgers. But maybe the guy drinking the beverage should be sitting in the chair watching the show, not necessarily lighting the fireworks,” said Skoog.
Safety is an essential part of firework fun this Fourth of July. Make sure your spending your holiday enjoying it in your backyard rather than in the emergency room.