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OPINION: As holiday approaches, celebrate cautiously

As the Fourth of July holiday quickly approaches, the presence of fireworks will become increasingly more apparent this week.

While fireworks are an integral part of the celebration each year, many people aren’t aware there are a local laws regarding the sale and use of fireworks.

According to the City of Winchester ordinance, anyone discharging fireworks must be at least 18 years old.

Fireworks may only be discharged from 10 a.m.t o 11 p.m. from June 27 to July 6, and from Dec. 30 to Jan. 1.

Fireworks cannot be discharged in the city limits within 200 feet of any structure, vehicle or another person. Winchester Fire-EMS Fire Marshal Gary Henry told The Sun last year, that leaves very few places in the city to legally set off fireworks.

These laws are in place not only for the safety of those using fireworks, but for those nearby and for consideration of neighbors in the area.

Each July 4th, thousands of people, most often children and teens, are injured while using fireworks, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Despite the dangers of fireworks, few people understand the associated risks — devastating burns, other injuries, fires, and even death.

The NFPA reports that fireworks start an average of 18,500 fires per year, including 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires, and 16,900 other types of fires. Those fires cause an average of three deaths, 40 injuries and $43 million in property damage each year.

In 2015, hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 11,900 people for fireworks-related injuries. Children young than 15 accounted for more than 25 percent of those injuries.

The National Council on Fireworks Safety offers these suggestions for a safer holiday:

— Always discharge fireworks with adult supervision and never let children light fireworks.

— Read the labels and directions before lighting fireworks.

— Wear safety glasses when using fireworks.

— Light one and step away.

— Never attempt to re-light a dud. Wait 20 minutes and soak it in water.

— Keep a bucket of water and a hose at hand.

— Never consume alcohol while using fireworks.

— Don’t bring pets to a fireworks display.

Fireworks can be fun, but pose many risks and can be disturbing to many others in the community. Be mindful of those with pets, young children and those suffering PTSD during these times.

Be cognizant of the laws that are in place and understand they are not there to snuff out the fun of the holiday, but to protect property and people.

Most importantly, be safe when using fireworks. No celebration is worth risking severe injury or death.

 

Editorials represent the opinion of the newspaper’s editorial board. The board is comprised of publisher Michael Caldwell and managing editor Whitney Leggett. To inquire about a meeting with the board, contact Caldwell at 759-0095.

About Whitney Leggett

Whitney Leggett is managing editor of The Winchester Sun and Winchester Living magazine. To contact her, email whitney.leggett@winchestersun.com or call 859-759-0049.

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