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Even safe and sane fireworks can backfire in wrong hands

This Fourth of July weekend, there will be fireworks shows, cookouts, parades and other celebrations. There are also likely to be home fires, burns and maybe even injuries due to the illegal use of fireworks or the incautious use of legal ones.

“We want everyone to have a happy and safe Fourth of July holiday,” said Ron Lynn, director of Clark County’s Building Department and Fire Prevention Bureau. “Therefore, it is important to remember that any fireworks can cause injuries or start fires if not used with caution, even those labeled safe and sane. All firecrackers and any fireworks that shoot into the air are illegal for use in Clark County unless they are part of a permitted fireworks show.”

Fireworks are on sale through July 4 in temporary venues on many corners in the valley. Others enter the valley illegally, purchased in states or communities with less stringent fireworks regulations. For that reason, officials say it’s important to keep an eye on your property, even if you aren’t creating a fireworks display.

Legal, safe and sane fireworks include sparklers and fireworks that keep to a small, circular area on the ground and don’t explode in the air. Illegal fireworks include firecrackers, roman candles, sky rockets and any item made of highly combustible materials.

Possessing or using illegal fireworks is a misdemeanor in Clark County. No fireworks, even those labeled safe and sane, are allowed at the Red Rock National Conservation Area, Mount Charleston, Lake Mead or other federal areas.

Early July is among the driest times of the year, and there is a great risk of starting a brush fire by using fireworks in a rural area, according to local officials.

“People need to stay vigilant around the holiday,” said Adolf Zubia, assistant fire chief with the county’s Building Department and Fire Prevention Bureau. “That’s not just a matter of keeping an eye on your own kids, property, fireworks display or other celebration. You should be keeping an eye on the surrounding area, also.”

Zubia recommends working with neighbors to make vigilance a group priority and put more sets of eyes on the issue. If something should go wrong, he recommends a multipronged response.

“You’re never going to be wrong by calling 911 and initiating an emergency response,” Zubia said. “There are actions you can do while calling 911, from notifying the occupants of the building to starting the process of what actions you can do to deal with the situation without compromising your personal safety.”

County officials released a list of fireworks safety tips:

— Have a pre-connected garden hose handy in case a fire breaks out.

— Maintain several 5-gallon buckets filled with water where you can place discharged fireworks overnight.

— Use fireworks on flat, hard surfaces such as parking lots and cul-de-sacs, away from buildings, vehicles and dry brush.

— Use only safe and sane fireworks and only in the way they were intended.

— Coordinate lighting the items so that everyone in the group anticipates when they will be set off and are not surprised.

— Keep close supervision on children and pets; maintaining a distance from the fireworks minimizes the possibility of injury.

— Keep fireworks out of young children’s hands. Sparklers can be popular items to give them, but they can get hot enough to cause clothes to catch fire or bad skin burns.

— Exercise caution when approaching an item that has failed to light; keep everyone away from it for several minutes.

— If fireworks malfunction or catch fire, make sure someone with a water supply can extinguish them.

— Before you begin lighting fireworks, discuss what to do if someone’s clothes catch fire: stop, drop and roll. Any burns should be treated with cool water and gauze. If the burn blisters, seek medical help.

— Check the area where fireworks were set off, and conduct a wide sweep around the area to make certain no embers or other heated debris remain.

To reach East Valley View reporter F. Andrew Taylor, email ataylor@viewnews.com or call 702-380-4532.

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