What do you get when you cross a heat wave, abnormally dry conditions, wheat fields in their prime, the Fourth of July and newly relaxed rules on fireworks?
A concerned fire chief.
A burn ban is already in effect in throughout the Saline Area Fire District, encompassing Saline Township and parts of Lodi and York townships, as well as the City of Saline. With highs expected to remain in the 90s this weekend and July 4 approaching, Fire Chief Craig Hoeft issued a call for people to use caution when setting off fireworks and starting backyard bonfires.
“I think it would be best if people wait a couple days so we can get some rain before they start shooting off fireworks,” said Hoeft. “At the very least, people need to be aware of the conditions.”
With fireworks, Hoeft urges people to be cautious.
“Don’t shoot them off next to a house and keep an eye out for where they land,” Hoeft said.
Hoeft said conditions make it possible for a fire to spread quickly.
“The ground is so dry right now. We had a guy doing an open burn the other day. He thought he had everything under control, the next thing you know, his lawn was burned up. That lawn was only two inches deep, and it burned fast,” Hoeft said.
Hoeft said he’s not trying to hose down anyone’s summer fun.
“Have a good time. But pay a little extra attention to what you’re doing,” he said.
Hoeft said the relaxed fireworks laws may prove to be a good thing if they prevent people from purchasing fireworks in Ohio, where dealers can sell larger rockets.
The forecast calls for a high of 96 Friday. The National Weather Service calls for a high of 93 on Saturday and 92 on Sunday, with a 30 percent chance of rain and the chance of isolated thunderstorms. The high dips to 88 Monday. The forecast for July 4 is 88 with partly cloudy skies and a 10 percent chance of rain.
According to the National Fire Protection Association fireworks caused an estimated 15,500 reported fires, including 1,100 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires, and 14,100 outside and other fires in 2010. These fires resulted in an estimated eight reported deaths, 60 civilian injuries and $36 million in direct property damage, according to the NFPA's Fireworks report. The report shows the risk of fireworks injury was highest for children ages 5-14 with more than twice the risk for the general population. Sparklers and noveltiesaccounted for 38 percent of the 8,600 emergency room fireworks injuries in 2010, according to the report.
The NFPA advises people against using consumer fireworks.
For those who plan a small display, the American Pyrotechnics Association website also offers several fireworks safety tips from the USCPSC and the National Council on Fireworks Safety, which recommend that consumers:
- Always read and follow label directions
- Always have an adult present
- Only buy from – never experiment or attempt to make your own fireworks
- Only ignite fireworks outdoors, light only one at a time and never re-ignite malfunctioning fireworks
- Dispose of fireworks properly
- Be sure to have water handy
- Never give fireworks to small children
- Store fireworks in a cool, dry place
- Never throw fireworks at another person
- Never carry fireworks in your pocket or shoot fireworks in metal or glass containers