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District Residents and Visitors Can Celebrate Safely During Fourth of July and Summertime Activities

Wednesday, June 26, 2013
The DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department encourages everyone to be mindful of their safety and use caution while attending these summertime celebrations

As residents and visitors look forward to celebrating the Fourth of July at parades, cookouts and firework displays, the DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department (DCFEMS) encourages everyone to be mindful of their safety and use caution while attending these summertime celebrations.

About 10,000 Americans are injured annually by fireworks and grill fires. More than half these injuries occur during the first week of July.
DCFEMS Chief Kenneth B. Ellerbe notes, “The safest way to enjoy the celebration of the Nation’s birthday and the 4th of July Holiday is to attend a public fireworks display such as the one planned on the National Mall, or one of the many in the national capital region.”

In the District of Columbia, some fireworks are permitted to be sold.  Retailers must secure a permit from DCFEMS and a business license from the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) in order to sell any legal fireworks in the District of Columbia.

Fireworks or firecrackers that explode such as cherry bombs, roman candles, or floral shells are illegal in the District of Columbia. Anyone found in possession of or using illegal fireworks can face fines, penalties and/or arrest.

Although some people may believe that fireworks are relatively safe with proper and careful usage, many injuries do occur.  Fireworks present substantial risks that can result in damage to property and, more importantly, can cause ear and eye injuries, amputations, severe burns and death. Children, especially those who are left unattended with fireworks, can be injured quickly.

The following tips should help make a public fireworks display safer and more enjoyable:

  • Stay far away from where the fireworks are exploded and wear earplugs if the noises are uncomfortably loud.
  • Obey all monitors and ushers and respect the safety barriers established that allow the trained pyrotechnic technicians room to safely do their job. Resist any temptation to get close to the actual firing site. In fact, the best view of fireworks is from a quarter mile or more away.
  • If unexploded fireworks fall to the ground, do not touch them and keep others away. If you happen to find any pieces which may not have exploded, immediately contact the local fire or police departments.
  • Pets, like their human companions, have very sensitive ears and the “booms” and “bangs” associated with fireworks displays can be quite uncomfortable - particularly to dogs. In fact, these loud noises can damage their ears too. Leave pets at home if you attend a fireworks show.

Enjoy the “Fourth” safely and attend a public display — it will provide the right kind of excitement!