Be a good neighbor as you celebrate Independence Day

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Americans traditionally celebrate their independence from England with Fourth of July fireworks, but we’ve also struggled with balancing that tradition with public safety and other considerations.

A Nebraska company thinks some Iowa cities have gone too far. Bellino Fireworks of Papillion is seeking an injunction barring Ankeny, Boone, Johnston and Pleasant Hill from enforcing fireworks rules more restrictive than state law, and another company has gone to court to stop Des Moines from enforcing its rule limiting fireworks sales to industrial areas.

The state of Iowa is more open to fiery celebration, passing a law last year that allows Iowans to buy, use and sell fireworks from June 1 through July 8 and from Dec. 10 through Jan. 3. Local governments can restrict the use of fireworks but not the sale.

Nebraska law only allows for fireworks to be sold between June 28 and July 5 or between December 28 and January 1. McCook allows their discharge 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. June 23-July 3 and until 11:59 a.m. July 4 and 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. July 5.

We’re sure city officials are hoping McCook residents are extra careful this year because of water restrictions recently imposed because of high water demand. That demand strains pumps and the water treatment plant and a major fire could quickly empty city water towers.

As always, there are some common-sense rules to follow with your home fireworks displays.

The National Safety Council and the National Council on Fireworks Safety offer a few firework safety tips:

* Always have water, a hose or a bucket, and a first aid kit handy.

* Keep young children away from fireworks, even sparklers.

* Use fireworks the way they were intended. Follow the lighting instructions on the package and don’t combine them.

* Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.

* Only use legal fireworks purchased locally and use fireworks outdoors only.

* Use launching fireworks in open areas only to ensure they don’t land on top of buildings and houses.

* Use a “designated shooter” who is alcohol-free and wearing safety glasses. Light one device at a time, and keep a safe distance once a firework is lit. Don’t light fireworks in containers.

* Don’t allow running or horseplay by anyone near fireworks.

* Don’t use fireworks while consuming alcoholic beverages.

* Always clean up after you are done celebrating.

And be kind to your pets.

* Always keep dogs and cats inside when fireworks are being let off.

* Make sure your dog is walked earlier in the day before the fireworks start.

* Close all windows and doors, and block off catflaps to stop pets escaping and to keep noise to a minimum. Draw the curtains, and if the animals are used to the sounds of TV or radio, switch them on (but not too loudly) in order to block out some of the noise of the fireworks.

* Ensure dogs are wearing some form of easily readable identification (ID) – even in the house. They should have at least a collar and tag.

* Think about fitting pets with a microchip, so that if they do run away they have a better chance of being quickly reunited with you.

* Prepare a “den” for your pet where it can feel safe and comfortable – perhaps under a bed with some of your old clothes. They may like to hide there when the fireworks start.

Be kind to your pets, and be a good neighbor when it comes to fireworks, and make the Fourth a true celebration.

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