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Monday Top Ten: Fireworks safety at home

People watch home fireworks on the 4th of July 2015 in Modesto.
People watch home fireworks on the 4th of July 2015 in Modesto. Modesto Bee

Danger lurks in celebratory packages this time of year.

We’re talking about fireworks, of course, the fun, fabulous and oh-so-explosive wonderments that will be going off here, there and everywhere over the long Fourth of July weekend.

Legal “Safe and Sane” fireworks are allowed in most towns across the Modesto region and some in the Mother Lode – Calaveras County allows them; Tuolumne County does not.

So while many people will flock to community parties and professional shows with bombs bursting in air, many others will gather in the streets in front of their homes to set off personal fireworks – cones, towers, fountains and more exploding with colorful, red-hot, sparkling cascades of patriotic pride.

Unfortunately, still others will shoot all manner of illegal and dangerous bursts into the air, much to the chagrin of their neighbors – and their neighbors’ dogs.

As the region prepares to mark the nation’s birth with patriotic displays of pyrotechnics, the Modesto Fire Department offers up a Top Ten list from Chief Sean Slamon to remind residents of the laws surrounding fireworks and to help them stay safe while celebrating at home:

▪  1. Fireworks that explode, go up in the air, or move on the ground in an uncontrolled fashion are illegal. The only fireworks that are legal for use in Modesto city limits are labeled “Safe and Sane” and have the state fire marshal seal on them. Modesto is a zero tolerance zone related to the use or sale of illegal fireworks.

▪  2. Modesto Police will be conducting special fireworks enforcement operations and those found in possession of illegal fireworks could be fined up to $1,000. Report illegal fireworks by calling 209-552-2470.

▪  3. Kids should never play with fireworks – always have an adult present when using fireworks. The risk of injury is highest for children ages 0-4, followed by children 10-14 years of age. After the fireworks are over, kids shouldn’t pick up fireworks that are lying on the ground as they may still be active.

▪  4. Never try to make your own fireworks or alter or combine them. Only use state fire marshal-approved “Safe and Sane” fireworks as they were intended to be used. It’s not safe to relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water to make sure it doesn’t accidentally go off and end up hurting someone or starting a fire.

▪  5. Only use fireworks outdoors. Be sure to have a bucket of water and a hose nearby and never use fireworks near dry grass or other flammable materials. Soak all fireworks in a bucket of water overnight before throwing them away in a trash can.

▪  6. The tip of a sparkler burns at more than 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit; that’s hot enough to cause third-degree burns… Let younger children use glow sticks instead. They can be just as fun but don’t burn hot enough to melt glass.

▪  7. More than three out of five (62 percent) of the fireworks injuries nationwide in 2013 were burns. Sparklers alone accounted for 41 percent of the emergency room fireworks injuries in 2013 nationally according to the National Fire Prevention Association. In four out of five of the injuries to children under 5, sparklers were the cause.

▪  8. On the 4th of July on a typical year, fireworks account for two out of five of all reported fires nationwide, more than any other cause of fire.

▪  9. Be sensitive to pets – animals have sensitive ears and can be extremely frightened or stressed on the Fourth of July. Keep pets indoors to reduce the risk that they’ll run loose or get injured.

▪  10. The best way to protect your family and property is to not sure fireworks at home. Instead, attend public fireworks displays and leave the lighting to the professionals.

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