Safety tips offered for July 4 holiday


With the Fourth of July holiday at hand, Pine Bluff police want to remind residents that it is illegal to sell, manufacture of discharge fireworks in the city limits.

Police Lt. David Price said the department generally tries to verbally warn people who are shooting fireworks whenever possible, “but there are some that will not heed a warning and a citation will be issued.

“Also, the debris left from shooting fireworks can result in an additional charge of littering,” Price said.

He said residents are invited to attend the city-sponsored and sanctioned fireworks display at Regional Park on Friday, which will begin at about 9 p.m. The park will open at 5 p.m., and Price said fireworks are prohibited in the park as well.

“There will be vigorous enforcement inside the park due to the possibility of injury to those attending and the large fireworks display being set up,” Price said.

A Pine Bluff city ordinance establishes a fine of up to $50 per offense for discharging or causing to discharge fireworks except as part of a display sponsored by a patriotic or civic organization.

Pine Bluff Fire and Emergency Services Department Capt. Harold Clark said in a press release Wednesday that an average of 240 people per day go to hospital emergency rooms with fireworks-related injuries in the month around the July 4 holiday.

Clark offered a number of tips for using fireworks safely, including:

• Never buy fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and they could pose a danger to consumers.

• Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don’t realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees — hot enough to melt some metals.

• Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.

• Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited properly.

• Never point or throw fireworks at another person.

• Keep a bucket of water of a hose handy in case of a fire or other mishap.

• After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.

• Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them in metal or glass containers.

The holiday is also recognized as one the busiest on area waterways and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office is preparing for that.

“Deputies’ main focus and safety concerns this Fourth of July are boaters and/or motorists drinking and driving as well as the misuse of fireworks,” Major Lafayette Woods Jr. said. “Deputies and patrol boats will also be deployed in Lake Langhofer (slackwater harbor) and along other parts of the Arkansas River within Jefferson County to monitor boating traffic.”

Woods said deputies will also try to keep drunken drivers off the highways.

“Deputies enforce traffic and criminal law in Jefferson County but this weekend, we will be beefing up patrols to ensure all citizens make it to their celebrations and back home safely,” he said.

Woods said last year, deputies arrested 10 people for driving while intoxicated or public intoxication during the holiday weekend.

“This year, we want none,” he said.

Along with deputies patrolling the highways and waterways, Woods said the sheriff’s office will be deploying the new Skywatch mobile observation tower to watch people who gather in Regional Park for the fireworks display and other events.

“The tower is equipped with a day/night vision infrared camera that is capable of recording live video footage to increase area security,” he said.

While it is legal to shoot fireworks in the unincorporated areas of the county, Woods said there are some areas where they are prohibited, including within 600 feet of any church, hospital, asylum, public school or within 200 feet of where any fireworks are stored, sold or offered for sale.