Your 4th of July Safety Guide!

Are you ready for this 4th of July weekend?  While the burn ban is still in effect for the Portland area, the ban on legal fireworks has been lifted.  That being said it is important to note how hot and dry the weather has been lately and to take the necessary precautions when celebrating the 4th of July this year.  We want you to have the best holiday ever, so here are a few tips to keep you, your family and your property safe this weekend:

Fire work safety:

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  • Light fireworks off a safe distance from your home, vehicle or any other structures; at least 25 feet.
  • Always light fireworks off a concrete surface or board, never directly off  the ground or near grass.
  • Have a bucket of water handy to completely extinguish all spent fireworks.  Have a fire extinguish nearby just in case a spark should catch.

Home safety

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  • Is your lawn bone dry from the heat wave?  Dry grass can catch fire very quickly, so make sure the grass and soil is damp before the festivities commence!  Water your lawn, mulch and shrubs continuously from now until the 4th.
  • Trim bushes to make sure they are not touching your house.  Should a spark cause a fire, you want to eliminate an easy path from your yard to your home.  Remove yard debris that may have gathered in window wells or around the edges of your property.
  • Remove leaves and pine needles from gutters; this would be a very easy place for a fire to start.  Spray down roof as much as possible.

 

Pet safety

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  • This can be a scary time for your furry friends!  Keep your pets indoors and comfortable as much as possible; if left outdoors your dog might panic and attempt to escape!
  • Once confined to a room in the house, leave the TV or music playing to calm your pet.  The continuous noise will make the sound of fireworks let startling.
  • An anxious dog can be destructive.  Give your pup an outlet for that nervous energy by providing him with appropriate, brain stimulating items to keep him occupied, like a Kong or frozen treat.

Stay safe and have fun this weekend!

Our Favorite Firework Stories

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Happy 4th of July from all of us here at Kennedy Restoration!  For your entertainment, here are some true, firework related stories and some preventative tips to keep them from happening to you.  Have a relaxing, safe holiday!

“I got a hold of some homemade, baseball size bombs and the neighbor talked me into setting one off.  The explosion blew out two of my week old, Milguard windows in the living room and made a pretty good dent in the yard. I had to fill the hole in the yard using a wheel barrow. My better half came home and was none too pleased with the damage. 10 years later and we are still picking glass out of the carpet!”

Lesson learned: Homemade explosives are very dangerous and should not be used.  There’s no way to know how powerful they will be or what damage they could potentially cause.  Stick to the legal, safe fireworks carried at reputable vendors to stay out of trouble with you better half.

“My wife is from Arizona – and due to the dryness and extreme fire hazard, pretty much ALL fireworks are banned there. When she moved up here, she was VERY leery of me setting off fireworks with the kids. Being the pyro that I am at heart, I told her everything would be fine, and proceeded to start the show in the driveway. The first thing I lit was supposed to go straight up and emit fire and sparks and make a little whistling sound. Instead, the device shot up and over at a 45 degree angle and landed on the roof of our brand new house, where it basically sat as a fire belching torch and tried it’s best to set the roof on fire.  She made me pour water on the house for an hour.”

Lesson learned:  To avoid terrifying your wife or husband; light off your fireworks far away from property and combustible landscaping.  Make sure you know the direction and trajectory of the explosive you are about to light off and be aware of your surroundings.

“A couple of years back, I was standing next to a guy who was not the best at lighting off mortars.  He placed it in the tube upside down and thus exploded in the tube!  As if that wasn’t bad enough there were other fireworks on the ground near it that were set off by the explosion.   It is the closest I ever hope to get to actual bombs.”

Lesson learned:  Mortars are directional!  To properly light a mortar, unwind the fuse at the top and lower the flat end of the shell into the tube.  Never stand over or look into the tube to make sure it is properly lit.  Empty the tube after the explosion; never drop another shell in on top of the previous one. 

“4 years ago on 4th of July we were up in Corbett for the parade, fun, fest and fireworks.  My uncle had made a homemade bomb.  While he was digging the hole to put it in, the rest of us were taking cover.  He kept telling us we weren’t back far enough, so we moved further back.  My motherly instinct took over and I felt the need to make sure everyone was a safe distance away.  He lit the bomb and it went off with a loud bang.  I felt something hit me and all of a sudden my arm was burning.  I looked down and sure enough shrapnel hit me and it instantly bubbled and blistered my arm and was bleeding pretty bad.  The closest house we were near didn’t have ice but had otter pops.  So the crafty guys I was with wrapped my arm in otter pops held together with a ponytail holder.  Instantly I had an ice pack and bandage.  I found the piece that hit me and to this day I still have it and the scar it left!  Not to mention it was a week before my wedding!   Good times…good times!”

Lesson Learned – Homemade fireworks of any kind should be avoided, especially ones from your uncle.  Make sure to have your first aid supplies and burn kit ready should anything go wrong.  For first and second degree burns (which are the most common) run the affected area under cool water.  Do not apply ice (or otter pops) as this can cause further damage to the skin.  Wrap the skin loosely in non-adhesive, breathable materials and watch for signs of infection.  If the burn is more severe than 1st or 2nd degree, seek medical attention. 

“My family and I attended an Independence Day celebration with some other family members at a beach along the Columbia River in Southwest Washington. We had several fireworks that we had purchased on the way; among these were various mortars, rockets, etc. (you know; all the good stuff).  After the sun set it was time to light off the fireworks. I decided I would do this close to the water’s edge.  All of the fireworks were neatly placed in a tight group approximately 10 yards from the selected “launching point”. After lighting a few mortars off, I decided to try a couple of the rockets. The first one went off giving us a beautiful aerial display of showering sparks and magnificent color over the water. I went to light the second one and accidentally bumped it as I was moving away. As the fuse reached the end, the rocket tipped over and headed straight for the other fireworks. You can probably guess what happened next; all of our fireworks were going off at once. Some were going up in the air and some were shooting across the beach no more than a few feet off the sand. People were jumping into the river and scattering in all directions. It was absolute chaos. As the barrage ended, we determined that, luckily, no one was injured, save a couple very minor burns. However, a couple of beach chairs that were being sat in at the time the incident occurred did not fare so well.”

Lesson learned: Set off fireworks far away from other fireworks that are waiting to be set off.  If possible store the unlit fireworks in a protective receptacle or behind some sort of barrier.  Be mindful of your surroundings!

“Living in Washington, we get all the good fireworks!  We were setting them off and doing the responsible thing by putting them in a plastic garbage can and then spraying them down.  After a full night of festivities, the garbage can was full of spent fireworks and we moved the can into the garage.  Some of the fireworks must not have been sprayed down completely and the can caught on fire in the night, melting it completely!  While we were lucky that nothing else caught fire, the toxic fumes from the plastic permeated everything in the garage and needed to be replaced!”

Lesson learned: Don’t use a plastic container to hold discarded fireworks as any amount of heat could potentially melt the plastic.  Make sure that fireworks are properly extinguished at the end of the festivities to avoid smoldering and potential fire damage.