Officials offer firework safety tips

By Staff
Kim West
Local residents will have a few more pyrotechnic options for the Fourth of July weekend this year.
"Fireworks weren't allowed here last year because of the drought, which put a damper on things," said Russellville fire marshal Bobby Malone. "But the city passed an ordinance two years ago that allows people within the city limits to shoot fireworks between June 29 and July 3 until 10:30 p.m., and they can also shoot them during New Year's and on Labor Day.
"This year the city is also having a public fireworks display Saturday, July 5 at Sloss Lake."
Russellville city councilman Arthur Elliott said the local show offers people an alternative to driving to the annual July 4 celebration held at McFarland Park in Florence.
"Gas is so high to just ride over to Florence to watch a 20-minute display," said Elliott, who represents District 4. "I know people love to see fireworks, and the show at Sloss Lake will be very nice. It's historic because it's the beginning of something new for the city, and I hope we can make it an annual event."
Elliott said people should arrive early to the show, which will begin approximately at 9 p.m.
"The show will be pretty big and last anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes," Elliott said. "I've been telling everyone I know about this, and I would recommend arriving by 8 p.m. or 8:30 p.m. for a good parking space.
"We've done well in our tax base in Russellville, and we wanted to give something back."
When using personal fireworks, Malone said there are a few basic safety guidelines that should be followed.
"Always use fireworks outdoors and have water handy – a garden hose and a bucket of water are best," Malone said. "Wait at least 20 minutes before trying to re-light a dud firework, which should be soaked in a bucket of water before discarding."
Belinda Johnson, director of nurses at Russellville Hospital, said the hospital doesn't keep statistics on fireworks-related accidents but she has seen their effects.
"It's important to take fireworks safety seriously," Johnson said.
"I've personally seen these injuries, and the worst ones have been eye injuries to children."
Malone also advised caution around children and pets.
"It's really important to consider the safety of kids, and to never allow them to play with fireworks," Malone said.
"Also keep in mind your animals because they're very sensitive to loud noise from fireworks."
Malone said even though residents will be permitted to shoot personal fireworks this year, he encourages people to attend public shows for safety reasons.
"The safest thing to do is not to shoot them at home and go to a public fireworks display where there professionals in charge of lighting the fireworks," Malone said.

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