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Preparing for safe, fun July 4th festivities

Staff Writer

While patrons and local families prepare for firework shows and other Fourth of July activities, Lincoln County officials buckle down for one of the busiest times of the year for law-breaking and potentially dangerous situations.
Barbecues and family get togethers aren’t on Sheriff David Carpenter’s mind on Independence Day; he’s focusing on a different realization on one of the highest traffic flow-days of the year, he said.
More people on the road means more opportunities for accidents, if certain precautions aren’t taken.
Carpenter has a few recommendations for those traveling over the next week:

  • Stay focused. Be constantly shifting your attention, every few seconds, constantly scanning the road and looking ahead and behind the vehicle. This will leave little room for surprises and will keep the driver alert at all times while on the road.
  • “Aim high.” Looking ahead while steering and frequently glancing at points far ahead will prepare drivers for what’s to come, helping eliminate last-minute lane changes and other potential hazards.
  • Back off. Remember, as speed increases it takes substantially longer to stop. Never follow too closely.
  • Just be nice. Every driver has their own way of operating a vehicle, and some are better than others. Focus on where you are headed and keep attention on the road, not the drivers.
  • Signal your intentions. Always use signals, whether it’s brake lights, turn signals, car horn or headlights — it lets other drivers see you and what your plans are before you change course.

After safe arrival at the desired destination for the night, take a minute to make sure the entertainment is within state regulations.
Through regulations, enforcement and local laws, fireworks are safer than ever before, Fire Marshall Mike Futrell said. However, the colorful displays that boom for the crowds that are associated with the holiday can and have been proven to be dangerous in previous years.
He cited a study by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) that found in 2010, 8,600 people across the country sought emergency care at hospitals for firework-related injuries.
Generally, legal fireworks are defined as non-explosive, unable to leave the ground and can’t have more than an allotted amount of grams of chemicals, such as sparklers.
All others are illegal in North Carolina.
To keep the family safe this holiday, consider the following when lighting fireworks:
No kids allowed. Parents, don’t allow children to handle fireworks, especially without adult supervision. NFPA found that the risk of injury from fireworks is twice as likely for children between the ages of 5 and 14.
Keep water nearby. Always have a bucket ready to help put out spent fireworks and in case of emergency, even for the sparklers. The starry-tipped stick can reach up to 1,700 degrees and is still sizzling, even after it has burned out.
Know what you’re working with. Read all instructions and package warnings before using any product. It’s important to know how the firework is designed to react, in order to detect when something isn’t going right and to avoid injury or damages.
Alcoholic beverages and fireworks do not mix, Futrell stresses.
Once is enough. Don’t re-light a “dud” firework that appears not to have worked properly the first time. After 20 minutes, soak it in water and move on to the next.
Those found guilty of possession or usage of illegal fireworks are subject to citations of up to $500 and confiscation of materials, Futrell warns.
For more information on codes and safety, visit www.ncga.state.nc.us.
For a list of displays in the county, visit www.chambernc.org.

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