Rain last month has improved conditions in the state’s forests. Still, the Nebraska Forest Service urges Nebraskans to take precautions with fireworks.
Don Westover, Fire Program Leader with the Nebraska Forest Service, says though there has been plenty of rain in many parts of Nebraska, fireworks still pose some dangers.
“We just really have to rely on people’s judgment locally when they’re considering whether or not to burn or whether or not to have fireworks,” Westover tells Nebraska Radio Network. “They just really have to use their own judgment and make a determination of how much rain they’ve gotten locally and how green things are.”
The State Fire Marshal’s office reports fireworks caused 57 fires in Nebraska last year, resulting in more than $285,000 in damages.
Westover says it is all too easy to start a forest fire.
“Really, every forest fire begins as a grass fire,” Westover says. “And so, any kind of fireworks, I don’t care what kind it is, will start grass on fire. That’s why we need to really exercise caution.”
Westover says parents need to supervise their children and that supervision includes making sure conditions are suitable for fireworks. Westover says all fireworks can become dangerous if used improperly.
Recent rains have eased the fire danger in Nebraska forests considerably. That rain, though, hasn’t soaked the whole states. Some forests remain dry, and vulnerable.
Fire safety experts prefer people watch a public fireworks display, but if they insists on shooting off their own fireworks, they provide these tips:
– Never give fireworks to small children, and always follow package instructions.
– Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution.
– Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
– Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight “a dud.”
– Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from children and pets.
– Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.
– Leave any area immediately where untrained amateurs are using fireworks.
Other common ways people often unintentionally start a wildfire
– leaving burning leaves or other debris unattended
– sparks from equipment such as lawnmowers, ATVs, power equipment
– unattended campfires
– carelessly discarding ashes from a fireplace or grill