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NEWS | June 29, 2010

Fireworks: just leave it to the professionals

By Stu Wyatt 628th Air Base Wing safety office

Independence Day is knocking on the door. Ready or not, here it comes. So what are your plans? If you are staying in the local area there are some great things to do right here in the Lowcountry.

July 2: Joint Base Charleston at Naval Weapons Station Charleston will host the Freedom Fest Independence Day celebration at Marrington Plantation, including food, beverages, and an obstacle course, a jousting tournament and hot air balloon rides, all cumulating with a 45-minute fireworks display.

July 3: The Navy Short Stay will host a street dance from 7 to 11 p.m. with a fireworks show at dark. Short Stay is located on Lake Moultrie in Moncks Corner, S.C.

July 3: Downtown Summerville will hold its annual Red, White and Blue on the Green festival in Hutchinson Square in front of the town hall. The event will include jump castles, games, crafts, food, costume contest and a non-motorized parade at 7 p.m.

July 4: Summerville will host a fireworks display at 9 p.m. at Gahagan Sports Park at 515 W. Boundary Street. Just down the street at the Woodlands Inn resort, the Summerville orchestra will perform from 4 to 8:30 p.m.

July 4: The 14th Annual 4th of July Blast at Patriot's Point is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. with live entertainment and a 20-minute firework display shot from the deck of the USS Yorktown after nightfall. Admission fee includes admission to the museum. The parking lot will have live music from Katbandoo starting at 7 p.m. and ending at 9 p.m. The Patriots Point fireworks show is the largest in the Lowcountry.

July 4: North Charleston will hold its Fourth of July Festival at Riverfront Park. The Fourth of July Festival will feature Quiana Parler from "American Idol," the "Blue Dogs" and "CoastRunner," cumulating with a fireworks display at dark over the Cooper River. Admission is free and will include activities for children, 14 food vendors and a huge sand box for kids to play in.

July 4: The city of Isle of Palms is scheduled to host a Fourth of July fireworks display on Front Beach at 9:15 p.m.

July 4: Folly Beach will hold a fireworks display over the Atlantic Ocean. Play at the beach or fish off the Taylor Fishing Pier before the show.

With all of the great shows and events in the area, let the professionals do the work while you relax and enjoy the show with your family. However, if shooting off fireworks is a family tradition, a few rules will ensure a safe holiday weekend.

First, never ever make your own fireworks. Amazingly enough, some of our service members have been known to do this with devastating results. This reckless and illegal practice has resulted in the loss of hands and even death of military members.

Next, when buying fireworks, do so from a reputable company. Don't trust fingers, eyes, ears, or those of family members to the fly by night vendors. Recently illegal and dangerous fireworks have been shipped to U.S. territories. April 2, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives seized 500 cases of illegal hazardous explosives shipped from Beihai, China, to the Northern Mariana Islands.

The bureau destroyed more than 2,200 pounds of explosives. According to an ATF release, "more state and local bomb technicians have been injured or killed disposing of illegal fireworks than any other type of disposal operation."

Firework shooters should wear safety glasses or goggles and always have water hose or bucket available. Never relight a "dud," as it may still be a "live round." Wait 20 and soak it in a bucket of water. Also, keep spectators back a safe distance from the shooter. Children ages 13 and older should be allowed to handle sparklers, which are the number one cause of fireworks-related emergency room trips.

Finally, obey local laws. Fireworks are strictly prohibited on Charleston Air Force Base, and each municipality in South Carolina is different. If illegal explosives activity is observed, call the local fire or police department.