Posted: July 3, 2020 | 10:00 a.m.
As we all prepare for this 4th of July weekend I want to caution everyone to take the steps necessary to keep you and your family safe this holiday weekend. Historically the Independence Day holiday is a celebration of America’s freedom and the struggles of our forefathers who founded our great country. This year’s 4th of July holiday will be different than others that we have experienced. We are still dealing with the COVID 19 pandemic, states surrounding us have seen a huge uptick in positive cases, so continuing to stay at home, and social distance is of great importance. Another long-standing tradition associated with July 4th are fireworks displays. As you make your holiday plans, I encourage you all to keep a few things in mind.
In Virginia, most types of fireworks are illegal. A good rule of thumb to remember when considering to use fireworks is; if it leaves the ground, shoots a projectile or explodes in any way it is illegal in Virginia. This ban includes firecrackers, bottle rockets and roman candles. There are some types of fireworks that are legal. Sparklers, fountains, pinwheels, snapping caps and Pharaoh’s Serpents can be legally possessed and discharged in Dinwiddie County. If you choose to use any of these type fireworks the National Council on Fireworks Safety recommends the following fireworks safety tips:
- Parents and caretakers should always closely supervise children of any age if they are using fireworks.
- Parents should not allow young children to handle or use fireworks.
- Fireworks should only be used outdoors.
- Always have water ready if you are shooting fireworks.
- Know your fireworks. Read the caution label before igniting.
- Alcohol and fireworks do not mix.
- Wear safety glasses whenever using fireworks.
- Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
- Soak spent fireworks with water before placing them in an outdoor garbage can.
- Avoid using homemade fireworks or illegal explosives: they can kill you!
- Report illegal explosives or fireworks to the Sheriff’s Office.
Another 4th of July tradition is cooking outside on a grill. Steaks, chicken, hamburgers and hot dogs cooked on a grill are always a summertime favorite; but grilling can be dangerous if certain precautions are not followed:
- Use gas and charcoal barbecue grills outside only.
- Position grills far from siding, tree branches and house eaves.
- Keep children and pets at least three feet away from a hot grill.
- Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals are ignited.
- Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for using your grill.
- Never leave your grill unsupervised when in use.
Many celebrations will include alcohol being served. I encourage everyone to drink responsibly. If you are going to drink alcohol please do not drive. My deputies have a zero tolerance for those who choose to drink and drive. If you are stopped and are found to be under the influence of alcohol, you will be arrested. If you drive drunk, you not only put your life, but the lives of others at risk. The danger that you put yourself and others in is not the only factor to consider before you get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol. The average DUI will cost you approximately $10,000, making it difficult to recover from financially. Arrested drunk drivers face jail time, the loss of their driver licenses, higher insurance rates, and dozens of other unanticipated expenses including attorney fees, fines and court costs, car towing and repairs, lost time at work, etc.
Whether taking to the road and going out of town or staying right here in Dinwiddie County, I want everyone to enjoy this July 4th weekend. If there is anything that we here at the Sheriff’s Office can do to help make your holiday safer and more enjoyable, please give us a call; we are here for you.