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Light up the Fourth

How to use fireworks safely on Independence Day

-Messenger photo by Elijah Decious
Fort Dodge Firefighter Ben Williams enjoys some fluorescent sparklers, one of many legal fireworks that can be enjoyed by Iowans on their own property when celebrating Independence Day.

With Fort Dodge’s fireworks show cancelled this year and many looking for a pandemic outlet for fun, lighting up the party this Independence Day only takes a trip to one of the local fireworks tents.

But with a variety of fireworks having been legal in Iowa for several years, Fort Dodge Fire Marshal Dennis Feldmann said users should keep safety top of mind to avoid a visit from their friendly Fort Dodge Fire Rescue.

“I would not be surprised if we see an increase in use this year,” Feldmann said, as personal fireworks could be one of few outlets for fun with many summer and fall celebrations canceled.

He said the department has seen an increase in injuries and fire calls since fireworks were legalized in Iowa several years ago.

Consumer fireworks with a rating over 1.4g remain illegal without a permit to use them, Feldmann said. Fireworks at stands across town are typically marked on packaging with their rating from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, which indicates the strength of the explosive.

-Messenger photo by Elijah Decious
A fireworks stand at Hy-Vee’s parking lot opened up this week for sales leading up to the Fourth of July.

Follow these tips to ensure your celebration with fireworks isn’t a dud.

DO

• Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don’t go off, or for use in case of a fire.

• Soak both spent and unused fireworks in water for a few hours after discarding.

• Light one device at a time.

-Messenger photo by Elijah Decious
Fort Dodge Firefighter Ben Williams demonstrates a way one should NOT try to light fireworks this Indepencence Day. Keep explosives pointed away from the face and away from buildings and structures that could pose a hazard.

• Maintain a safe distance after lighting devices.

• Closely supervise older children using fireworks. It is illegal for anyone under 18 to possess or use fireworks without parental supervision.

• Use protective eyewear when using fireworks.

• Give yourself enough time and space to get away from a device after lighting it.

• Have fun during the legal fireworks hours: 5 to 10 p.m. on July 1-3. On July 4, you have until 11 p.m. to discharge them.

DON’T

• Allow young children to handle fireworks.

• Use fireworks while impaired by alcohol or drugs. Fire Marshal Feldmann said alcohol is a big factor contributing to injuries and accidents.

• Hold lit fireworks in your hands.

• Light fireworks indoors or in garages.

• Use fireworks near any other people, houses or flammable materials.

• Try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks.

• Light fireworks on public streets or another person’s property without permission. Fireworks can only be used on your own property. Fines for violating the rules are hefty: $760 for the first offense and $1,097 for the second offense.

• Point fireworks in anyone’s face, including your own, while lighting the fuse.

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