Excessive Heat Watch - Fire Safety Recommendations for the Independence Day Celebration
Hot and dry weather conditions have been the forecast over the past few days and will continue through July 4 Independence Day holiday. If you plan on attending one of the many celebrations, Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue (www.pwcgov.org/fire) suggest the following precautions:
- Drink plenty of fluids (non-alcoholic)
- Wear appropriate clothing
- Light colored
- Loose fitting
- Wide-brimmed hat
- Schedule outdoor activities
- During the morning or evening, avoid the middle of the day if possible
- Monitor high risk individuals
- Infants & young children
- Elderly (65 and older)
- People who overexert during work or exercise
- People who are physically ill (heart disease or high blood pressure, or who take certain medications, such as for depression, insomnia, or poor circulation)
- Do not leave infants, children, or pets in a parked car.
The Department would like to remind residents that with the current weather conditions the possibility for outside fires is elevated. The Fire Marshal’s Office would like to alert the community regarding the threat of fire danger whereby outside fires can spread quickly and out of control threatening woodlands, structures and lives.
To prevent outside fires:
- properly extinguish and discard smoking materials
- no outside burning in residential areas; properly dispose of debris by chipping, shredding or transporting to the landfill
Residents are reminded that most outside burn permits are limited to commercial or agriculture operations and as part of the process a comprehensive review of the operation are conducted before a permit will be approved and issued. To obtain more information or an application for a burn permit, please contact 703-792-6360 or visit our website at www.pwcgov.org/fire, click on Fire Marshal’s Office and click on “Burning Regulations.”
In addition, many individuals have purchased fireworks for their backyard parties and neighborhood displays and individual homes. No firework is a safe firework; however, the use of illegal fireworks is dangerous and can lead to injuries, deaths and fires. In 2011, there were an estimated 9.600 fireworks-related injuries treated in emergency rooms. Of those treated, 2 out of 5 were children under 15 years of age. During June 17, 2011 through July 17, 2011, there were an estimated 6,200 fireworks-related injuries (65% of the total estimated fireworks-related injuries for the year.)
Should you choose to use legal fireworks, the Fire Marshal’s Office would like to help you celebrate safely by suggesting the following safety tips:
- Fireworks should only be used under adult supervision.
- Fireworks should only be used outdoors on a driveway, sidewalk or other fire-resistant surface. Remember, fires are caused by careless handling of fireworks in areas exposed to sparks or live fireworks.
- Never ignite fireworks during high winds where flying sparks can start a fire.
- Keep a bucket of water handy in case sparks start a fire.
- Be sure children around fireworks know to stop, drop and roll if their clothing catches on fire.
- Deposit sparklers in a metal container as they may be stepped on while hot or lost in the grass and stepped on while playing.
- Never aim or throw fireworks at another person.
- Never try to re-ignite fireworks that malfunction or fail to go off.
- Do not wear loose clothing when using fireworks.
- Never experiment or make your own fireworks.
- Never carry fireworks in your pocket.
The illegal devices most commonly used during Independence Day are bottle rockets -- the whistling, sparkling fireworks that shoot into the air, often turning a backyard display into a professional show. The problem is that you have no control over where it goes posing a great threat to life and property especially with the current dry weather conditions.
During the 4th of July weekend, Fire Marshals and police officers will patrol the region looking for and confiscating illegal fireworks. Violators will be charged with the offence and will be required to appear in court. In Virginia, the use of illegal fireworks is a Class 1 misdemeanor in which a person could receive jail time of up to 1 year and a fine of up to $2,500.00.
Prince William fire officials are encouraging people to attend professionally supervised displays on the National Mall in Washington or at a number of shows at cities, towns, parks and other venues in the region.
For more information about selecting and using legal fireworks, or if you would like to safely dispose of illegal fireworks, contact the Fire Marshal’s Office at 703-792-6360, or visit our website at www.pwcgov.org/fire. Turning in illegal fireworks will not result in any fines or summons, and no questions will be asked.