While the Fourth of July is the perfect opportunity to celebrate patriotism, every year the Santa Clarita Valley’s first responders visit people who weren’t quite following the rules and taking all the necessary precautions.
Illegal fireworks, swimming dangerously and even unauthorized grilling are just a few of the hazards dealt with regularly during summer. Recognizing several tips and tricks to remain safe during the patriotic day could minimize potential dangers, according to experts and emergency personnel.
“By knowing where potential fire and electrical hazards exist during the summer months and taking the needed steps to prevent them, people can enjoy activities such as grilling, swimming and celebrating the Fourth of July while keeping their families, guests and homes safe,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of the National Fire Protection Agency’s Outreach and Advocacy Division.
In fact, the city, SCV Sheriff’s Station and local firefighters are hosting a fireworks-safety news conference Friday at Fire Station No. 126 to remind residents that fireworks of any kind are illegal in the city of Santa Clarita.
Inspector David Michel of the Los Angeles County Fire Department urged against the personal use of fireworks — the unauthorized usage of “firecrackers,” even seemingly innocuous “sparklers,” has been illegal throughout Los Angeles County for decades, due to the extreme fire risk, among other dangers. “We recommend people to go see a professional firework show instead of trying to set up the fireworks themselves. That’s always the safest option and doesn’t put anyone in danger,” Michel said.
Fireworks account for nearly half of all reported U.S. fires, more than any other cause of fire, during Independence Day, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
An estimated 11,100 injuries were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments in 2016. Sparklers were the most common type of firework causing injuries to preschoolers and 400 of the 900 sparkler injuries were related to children under the age of 5, according to NFPA data.
“There are lots of eye and hand injuries with exploding fireworks. It’s always dangerous just having fireworks because you don’t know where they are made or how old they are. Sometimes it catches people by surprise because it can burn faster than expected,” Michel said.
The city of Santa Clarita issued an FAQ page on its website about fireworks rules and laws. The bottom line is, fireworks are illegal in the city of Santa Clarita, but if anyone has any lingering questions, they can check out the FAQ page.
The city of Santa Clarita, in partnership with the SCV Sheriff’s Station and the L.A. County Fire Department, has launched a joint fireworks safety campaign to raise awareness about the ban on personal fireworks. Fireworks are a violation of the Santa Clarita Municipal Code, Health and Safety Code and Los Angeles County Fire Code.
“Violators can receive a fine from $500 to $1,000 and face misdemeanor prosecution,” SCV Sheriff’s Station Capt. Robert Lewis said in a recent news release.
The public is incentivized to report illegal fireworks by calling the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s station at (661) 255-1121. Residents may also report illegal fireworks to the sheriff deputy assigned to their zone. Information on zones can be found online at scvsheriff.com/zone-leaders.
Similar to the issue with fireworks, there is also a problem with grilling fire safety. According to NFPA statistics, the month of July is the highest for grilling fires.
Using the grill too close to something that could burn or having things that could catch fire too close to the grill are among the leading causes for grill fires, which can be particularly dangerous in areas prone to brush fires, including the SCV.
Make sure to keep your grill in top shape by cleaning off excess grease and fat buildup. The leading causes of home fire grills are failure to clean the grill and having the grill next to something that can catch on fire.
Michel added: “If you use a grill at a park, pay attention to the area. Make sure it’s a designated area. Do not use a grill in a brush area or an area with high winds and have a hose or extinguisher handy.”