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Firework tent employees offer safety tips

As Fourth of July nears, there are precautions firework users should remember.

Having water at hand when dealing with fireworks can help put out any unexpected situations. Fireworks should also be soaked after use before clean up. (Ashley Duong/The Union)
Having water at hand when dealing with fireworks can help put out any unexpected situations. Fireworks should also be soaked after use before clean up. (Ashley Duong/The Union)
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With the Fourth of July right around the corner, fireworks tents are popping up all over southeast Iowa.

In Washington, Sheila Evans at the Bellino Fireworks tent located on the Washington County Fairgrounds. The tent opened June 24 and will stay until July 5, operating from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m.

For those looking to launch fireworks, Evans suggests first locating level ground with good support. Uneven ground can result in the firework tipping over and launching into an unknown direction, creating a safety hazard.

“A lot of people put plywood down,” she said.

Brandon Septer, manager for the fireworks tent located in the Hy-Vee parking lot in Mt. Pleasant, agreed, saying a lot of fireworks safety is “just common sense.”

The tent manager said to always make sure fireworks are on stable and flat ground, to ensure a firework does not tip over and shoot off in any direction other than up into the sky. In a scenario where something does go sideways, Septer said a person’s best bet is to “just take cover.”

Septer also suggests having a garden hose or bucket of water nearby as a safety measure in case something needs to be put out quickly. He also said it’s best to pour water over a firework after it has been set off before touching it when cleaning up.

“[Fireworks are] basically a flaming ball of fire,” he said.

Evans agreed, saying most packages have instructions on the back that explain they must be submerged in water after firing to prevent accidents from happening. For safety reasons, people must be 18 years old to purchase fireworks, she said.

Septer reiterated the importance of safety, saying the only people who should be handling fireworks are adults, and even for the more kid-friendly pieces like sparklers or parachutes, an adult should be nearby and watching to make sure children are staying safe.

“Anything under the tent besides the sparklers should not be touched by kids. There’s a lot more here that is unsafe for kids than there is that is safe,” Septer said.

In addition to keeping kids safe, adults should also be vigilant when being around fireworks. When setting up, most labels on fireworks suggest setting up at least 300 feet away from structures.

“Never set one off under a tree — it could catch on fire or ricochet,” Septer added. If set off too close to a building or structure, the same could also happen.

A list of ordinances regarding the launching of fireworks in area locations can be found online at: southeastiowaunion.com.