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Keep children, pets safe during fireworks displays

While fireworks are a traditional way to celebrate the Fourth of July, pyrotechnic thrill seekers should remember to keep safety in mind to make sure that joyful time does not turn tragic.

“These things can cause injuries that are absolutely devastating, especially to younger people,” Andalusia Police Chief Wilbur Williams said. “We caution every one to be extremely careful if they use fireworks this year. You can blow off fingers or ears, and cause damage and burns to other parts of the body if you don’t use caution.”

Williams also said it is illegal to use fireworks within the city limits of Andalusia.

“There are ordinances in place that violate the use of fireworks anywhere within the city limits,” he said. “We will be responding to any complaints, and may issue summonses if the situation warrants it.”

Williams said it is important for parents to be the “mature adults” in any situation where fireworks are being used.

“Adults need to be adults, and not the children’s best friend,” he said. “You know what’s safe and what’s not.”

In addition, pet owners should be aware of potential dangers from fireworks — not necessarily the burns, but the noises and explosions.

“Every year, there always seems to be animal that runs away during a Fourth of July party,” said Jennifer Reese, president of the Andalusia Area Humane Society. “Dogs and other animals can be scared by the fireworks and commotion, and they’ll run away or dig under a fence if they’re frightened enough.

“Please, if you’re going to shoot off some fireworks at your house, bring the animals inside first so they don’t get scared.”

The National Council on Fireworks Safety offers several tips to stay safe during the Fourth of July:

Use fireworks outdoors only.

Use fireworks only as intended; do not try to alter them or combine them.

Never attempt to re-light a “dud” firework. Instead, wait 20 minutes and soak it in a bucket of water.

Spectators should keep a safe distance from the shooter, and the shooter should wear safety glasses or some other kind of eye protection.

The American Humane Society also offers tips to ensure that man’s best friend also has a safe and fun holiday:

Resist the urge to take your pet to fireworks displays.

Keep your pets indoors at home in a sheltered, quiet area.

If you know that your pet is seriously distressed by loud noises like thunder, consult with your veterinarian before July 4th for ways to help alleviate the anxiety he or she will experience during fireworks displays.