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Fire inspector offers safety tips

Fire inspector offers safety tips

Fire official offers safety tips

Customers browse the fireworks selection at American Fireworks in Genoa City on Tuesday. Kenosha Fire Inspector Keith Aulds offered the public a number of tips to say safe this Fourth of July weekend.

There is no doubt many county residents will partake in lighting off a firework or two — maybe three — in celebration of the Fourth of July this weekend.

And for those who do, priority No. 1 from the Kenosha Fire Department’s perspective is to be safe.

There are a number of guidelines the public can follow so they can enjoy the holiday to its fullest.

“(It’s important) to know what the rules and regulations are, as far as if it blows up or goes up, it’s basically illegal,” Kenosha Fire Inspector Keith Aulds said. “Sparklers, of course, are legal, but sparklers are also one of the leading causes for emergency room visits for kids. Always use those while being supervised, have a can for the sticks to go into.”

The most effective safety measure, Aulds said, is to wait until later this summer when postponed fireworks displays around the county are scheduled to happen, depending of course, on the state of the pandemic.

“If people would be patient to wait for the municipalities to actually be able to hold their fireworks if they want to see fireworks (that would be helpful),” he said.

But Aulds also is realistic, especially given what the country has gone through since March, and he knows the urge to celebrate this weekend is high among the public.

“That’s understandable,” he said. “That’s what people do. That’s one of the things people have to pay attention to, if they’re going to blow them off, they’re going to have to use their own judgment.”

According to state statutes, selling, possessing or setting off aerial fireworks without a permit is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 per offense. Violators also could face a misdemeanor charge from the municipality that carries up to nine months in jail, a fine of $10,000 or both.

Ground fireworks, such as the sparklers Aulds referred to, along with smoke bombs, snaps and snakes, are legal. He said anything that "emits sparks" is not legal, according to city ordinance.

Specific concerns

From the fire department’s perspective, Aulds said there’s always a concern that a small display in someone’s backyard will lead to a bigger problem and a fire that needs to be dealt with.

And that can happen in the blink of an eye.

“That’s always a hazard,” Aulds said. “All it takes is something to land on dry brush. Typically it’s dry around this time. You want to watch out for the dry brush and things like that.”

As for injuries, burns remain a top concern, Aulds said. According to statistics provided by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission 58% of emergency department-treated fireworks injuries in 2019 were from burns, most commonly to hands, fingers, arms and legs.

That same study stated that fireworks were involved with an estimated 10,000 injuries treated in emergency rooms throughout the country for all of 2019. During a one-month period between June 21, 2019, and July 21, 2019, an estimated 7,300 fireworks-related injuries were treated by emergency room personnel.

Children younger than 15 accounted for 36% of the total injuries, the study states, with 900 of those coming from sparklers and another 400 from bottle rockets.

“All we can do is recommend that they play it safe and use the necessary precautions,” Aulds said. “Big gatherings do significantly increase your chances for (something to go wrong).”


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