LIMA — No one says you can’t have a good time celebrating the Fourth of July, but law and fire officials warn of keeping the fun safe.
On a holiday full of travel and fireworks, safety needs to be at the forefront. Driving recklessly, drinking and driving, and handling fireworks are all ways the holidays can end badly.
“We want to remind people to be safe over the Fourth of July weekend,” said Sgt. Kristina Bennett, of the Wapakoneta post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. “We always see a lot of increased traffic with people traveling around, and of course the holiday celebrations always bring alcohol, so we focus primarily on traffic violations and" operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The patrol reports that statewide, troopers arrested 236 drivers for OVI between midnight July 3 and 11:59 p.m. July 4 last year. During this time, impaired driving was responsible for 87 crashes.
Bennett said her post will have additional troopers on the roadways starting tonight and through the weekend. They will also be looking for people texting while driving.
The Lima post will have additional troopers out starting tonight and through Thursday. Lt. Brant Zemelka warns drivers to be patient, especially in congested construction areas.
“Give yourself additional time due to the fact that there is quite a bit of construction across the state,” he said. “Just be patient. Don’t get frustrated with people in front of you. If someone does something wrong to you, just ignore it and take your time.”
Drinking and driving over the Fourth of July holiday is always a worry. Officials remind to always have a designated driver.
“Make sure your plans are well thought out before you get to an area and you’re not sure how you are going to get home,” she said.
Those heading out will see some relief at the gas pump. AAA reports that the national average price of gas has dropped to $3.48 per gallon, which is the lowest average price since Feb. 1. According to OhioGasPrices.com, prices in the area Tuesday ranged from $3.07 a gallon at Sam’s Club on Greely Chapel to $3.45 at a few places. Most hovered around $3.12 and $3.14.
Despite the drop in gas prices, motorists will still likely pay the third highest average gas prices on record for the July 4th holiday. According to AAA, the highest national average for the holiday was $4.10 per gallon in 2008, followed by $3.57 per gallon in 2011 and $3.34 per gallon in 2012.
Fireworks is always a concern on the Fourth of July. In 2012, 8,700 people were treated in emergency rooms for firework-related injuries, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Fireworks Annual report released earlier this week. Sixty percent of those treated came during the one-month period surrounding the Fourth of July.
“Our big thing is to let the professionals do it. Go to your local exhibit and watch it that way,” said Chris Jackson, certified fire safety inspector with the Lima Fire Department.
Jackson said he hears of a lot more backyard displays, and pretty big ones, than in the past. While fireworks can be purchased in Ohio, most cannot be set off here. The exception are things such as smoke bombs, snacks and sparklers.
When using sparklers, Jackson said, be sure to have a bucket of water nearby to put the metal rods in. Jackson doesn’t think children should be doing sparklers until they are 12 and then they should be supervised by an adult.
“We see a lot of burns from those,” he said. “I don’t think people realise the temperature those things get to.”