City officials share tips to keep yourself, pets safe on Independence Day

Fireworks from the Wamego show are seen from field north of Highway 24 on July 4, 2016. (Archive photo by Evert Nelson | Collegian Media Group)

Considering the integral role of fireworks in July Fourth festivities, it’s no secret the holiday has the potential to go south due to an accident.

Nobody wants to end up with a tragic ending to what should be a day of celebration. Fireworks, though thrilling and beautiful, come with a risk and have the potential to be dangerous to person and property.

Ryan Courtright, Deputy Fire Marshal for the City of Manhattan advises against holding fireworks near to your body when lighting them or aiming them at people or buildings.

Additionally, celebrators should be cognizant of firework disposal.

“The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to watch a public display conducted by professionals,” captain Jake Powell, Manhattan fire investigator, said in a press release from the Manhattan Fire Department. “If you choose to use fireworks at home, make sure you dispose of them in a bucket of water or soak them with a garden hose before disposing of them in the trash.”

In Manhattan, the week of the Fourth of July averages about five firework-related calls that cause around $34,000 total in property damage.

Fortunately, there has been a decent amount of rain this season, decreasing the likelihood of grass fires and fires of that nature as a result of fireworks.

Besides property and personal damage, another commonly overlooked issue is fireworks’ effects on animals. Cats and dogs can be startled by the loud noises, causing more pets to be lost on the Fourth of July than any other day during the year.

“The animal shelter will see an influx of lost pets as a result of the holiday for about five days,” said Deborah Watkins, director of Animal Services for the T. Russell Reitz Animal Shelter in Manhattan.

Dogs will be lost more often than cats because dogs have a tendency to run when they are afraid, while cats will have the tendency to hide.

Moreover, fireworks can be poisonous to animals when ingested.

Watkins offered the following advice for people wanting to keep their pets safe this July Fourth:

  1. Microchip your pets as an aid to having pets returned if they get lost. Microchipping can be done at the shelter for $40.
  2. Keep animals indoors as much as possible, keeping them crated or in a basement so they won’t be as exposed to the noise of fireworks.
  3. Give them toys and blankets to reduce anxiety, and/or have a TV or fan running.

Furthermore, Manhattan animal control officers will be available to help on July Fourth.

With all of this in mind, have a safe and fun holiday!