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Local Police and Fire Departments Offer Tips and Guidelines for Celebrating The Fourth of July Safely
The following is a message from West Newbury Police Chief Arthur Reed, West Newbury Fire Chief Michael Dwyer, Salisbury Police Chief Thomas W. Fowler, Salisbury Fire Chief Richard Souliotis, Newburyport City Marshal Mark Murray, Newburyport Fire Chief Christopher LeClaire, Newbury Police Chief Michael A. Reilly, Newbury Fire Chief Douglas Janvrin, Merrimac Police Chief Eric M. Shears, Merrimac Fire Chief Ralph Spencer, Groveland Police Chief Jeffrey Gillen, Groveland Fire Chief Robert Lay, Georgetown Police Chief Donald C. Cudmore, and Georgetown Fire Chief Fred Mitchell. It is respectfully submitted for publication.
As residents prepare to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday, area public safety agencies are sharing some important reminders and safety tips with the communities they serve.
Independence Day is a joyous time for the nation, and it is a time when millions of families come together for celebrations, barbecues, and pool parties. It is also one of the busiest times of the year for police and fire departments.
“As public safety officials in the Merrimack Valley, we live and work in these communities, and we raise our families here. Our first priority is that holidays like the Fourth of July are safe and enjoyable for everyone,” said Groveland Fire Chief Robert Lay.
“Please heed our advice. The last thing we want us for someone to get hurt because they were doing something improper or illegal,” added Newburyport Fire Chief Christopher LeClaire.
Whether you are getting together for a cookout, pool party, marshmallow roast, or a cold beverage with friends and family, here are some vital tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable holiday for everyone:
Fireworks of all kinds are illegal in Massachusetts
“Yes, we know that we say it every year, but every year people are injured by illegal fireworks and fireworks cause brush fires and structure fires around the country,” said Georgetown Police Chief Donald C. Cudmore. “Fireworks are illegal in Massachusetts, and police will seize them and fine those caught in possession.”
Recently, New Hampshire legalized firecrackers, and some have been confused about whether the change occurred in New Hampshire or Massachusetts. Firecrackers remain illegal in Massachusetts, as are sparklers, fountains, bottle rockets and all other fireworks.
Private citizens may not use, possess or sell fireworks anywhere in Massachusetts, nor may they purchase them legally elsewhere and transport them into Massachusetts.
Those in possession of fireworks will face fines, and those who sell fireworks face arrest.
“Leave the fireworks to the professionals,” said West Newbury Police Chief Arthur Reed. “Enjoy professional, planned fireworks displays and stay safe during the holiday week.”
Bonfires and Open Fires are Illegal from May 2 to January 14
Commercial fire pits designed to enclose a wood fire outdoors are legal and are great, when used safely and by adults, for keeping warm on a cool night or for roasting marshmallows. However, open burning and bonfires are illegal at this time and can cause dangerous brushfires that threaten wildlife, homes and lives.
When using a fire pit, never use lighter fluid or any other chemical—such as gasoline—to get the fire going. Properly built fires, using newspaper and small kindling on the bottom with larger wood on top, do not need any chemical enhancement.
“Fire pits can add an enjoyable element to an evening get-together, but they are also dangerous,” said West Newbury Fire Chief Michael Dwyer. “Keep children away from the flames, and never use gasoline or lighter fluid to start a fire.”
You drink, you drive, you lose.
Homeowners are responsible for those consuming beer, wine and other alcoholic beverages on their premises, and the state’s social host law means that homeowners will be held responsible for any minors consuming alcohol on your property.
“The police will be out in force over the next week, looking for drunk drivers. Designate a driver, and get home safely,” said Newburyport City Marshal Mark Murray.
“Someone dies in a drunk driving crash every 51 minutes in the U.S. Don’t become a statistic,” added Groveland Police Chief Jeffrey Gillen.
Control access to alcohol and control quantities served. Never operate machinery, such as golf carts, grills or vehicles, under the influence of alcohol. Never drink and drive, and always use a designated driver if you do drink alcohol.
Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Fireworks are illegal, but injuries resulting from intoxicated and improper use of fireworks last a lifetime and are far worse than a monetary fine.
Use gas and charcoal grills safely
Use grills only for their intended purpose, and read the instructions that came with your grill. The Stoneham Fire Department recently responded to a fire caused when a homeowner accidentally used charcoal in a gas grill. Use only propane in a gas grill, and use only charcoal on a charcoal grill. Limit or avoid use of lighter fluid, and never use gasoline or other chemicals to light a grill.
“Food on the grill is symbolic of a summertime celebration, but misuse of gas and charcoal grills is a leading cause of fires and injuries around this time of the year,” said Georgetown Fire Chief Fred Mitchell.
Do not use gas or charcoal grills on patios or balconies. Gas grills can be used on first floor decks or patios only if there is an outdoor stairway to the ground, or it is at ground level. It is illegal to use gas or charcoal grills on patios or balconies above the first floor.
Always keep children away from grills while in use.
Pool and water safety
Always supervise children around pools. Avoid the use of glass containers and bottles around pools, where people may be walking with bare feet.
More than 200 children drown in backyard swimming pools each year, according to the American Red Cross. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that drowning is the number one cause of accidental death for children between the ages of 1 and 4.
When visiting the beach, note the weather and watch for rough waters. Always supervise children around natural waterways, as water often becomes deeper and rougher without warning.
“Pool and beach safety are priorities for our agencies, as drowning and accidential injuries are preventable tragedies that occur far too often across the country,” said Newbury Police Chief Michael A. Reilly
Before the party
“Proper planning ensures not only a successful party but also one that is free of danger and injury, where everyone gets home safely afterward,” said Merrimac Police Chief Eric M. Shears.
When mowing your lawn, keep your hands away from a running lawnmower. Never put your hands inside a lawnmower chute or under a running mower. Do not fuel a lawnmower while it is hot or immediately after it has been used.
Never store gasoline containers or propane cylinders indoors.
Fill pitchers of water or offer bottled water. Alcohol and heat can be a dangerous combination, and water prevents dehydration.
Stock up on sunscreen to avoid sunburn.
After the party
Dispose of ashes from charcoal grills and fires properly, in a metal container.
Clean up trash and debris.
Move leftover food to refrigerators or freezers promptly.
Make sure all of your guests have a safe way to get home.
“As police officers and firefighters, our top priorities are your health, safety and security,” said Salisbury Police Chief Thomas W. Fowler. “We hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July holiday.”