In the wake of extreme dryness and prevalent wildfires across the state, many California cities have opted out of this year’s fireworks-based Fourth of July festivities, as USA Today reports:
“Fire fears have escalated since last year's celebrations. The fourth year of a drought has produced tinder-like conditions. More than 71% of the state is in an extreme drought and 47% is in exceptional drought, characterized by ‘shortages of water in reservoirs, streams, and wells creating water emergencies,’ according to the National Drought Mitigation Center.
In Eldorado, Calif., firefighters this week battled three grass fires that had started from lightning strikes.
According to Cal Fire, last year there were over 300 fires in the state sparked by fireworks. Fireworks approved by the state fire marshal are on sale in 300 communities in California.
‘As we head into the fourth summer of a severe drought, it is more important than ever that everyone use an abundance of caution to avoid sparking a fire,’ said Chief Ken Pimlott, director of CAL FIRE, in a statement earlier this week.
The National Safety Council has a list of recommendations to minimize the risk of fire damage:
- Obey all local laws regarding the use of fireworks.
- Know your fireworks; read the cautionary labels and performance descriptions before igniting.
- A responsible adult SHOULD supervise all fireworks activities. Never give fireworks to children.
- Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Save your alcohol for after the show.
- Wear safety glasses when shooting fireworks.
- Light one firework at a time and then quickly move away.
- Use fireworks OUTDOORS in a clear area; away from buildings and vehicles.
- Never relight a “dud” fireworks. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
- Always have a bucket of water and charged water hose nearby.
- Never carry fireworks in your POCKET or shoot them into METAL or GLASS containers.
- Do not experiment with homemade fireworks.
- Dispose of spent fireworks by wetting them down and place in a metal trash can away from any building or combustible materials until the next day.
- FAA regulations PROHIBIT the possession and transportation of fireworks in your checked baggage or carry-on luggage.
- Report illegal explosives, like M-80s and quarter sticks, to the fire or police department.