TUPELO • More people are planning their own family or neighborhood fireworks displays this weekend to avoid the large crowds associated with the big municipal pyrotechnic displays.
Cities that are holding fireworks shows are asking people to remain in their cars to avoid the possible spread of the coronavirus.
“People are disgusted in the way the city is handling it,” said Carlos Montes, who runs the Orbit Fireworks stand on Highway 6 west of Tupelo. “There is a lack of parking and they don’t want you to get out of your car. If you don’t have a sun roof, it will be uncomfortable bending over to look up at the fireworks.”
Montes opened his stand June 24 and has seen a significant run on the larger items that fire displays well above rooftop levels. The empty spots on his display tables show where he has sold out of inventory.
“They have already bought out a lot of the big things, the ones that go up high and have displays,” Montes said. “It looks like a lot of neighborhoods are going to have their own shows.”
Susan Buchanan didn’t open the fireworks stand on Highway 178 in Belden until Wednesday but has already seen a marked increase compared to previous years.
“I had far more on the first day this year. It’s usually not this busy,” Buchanan said. “And I’ve seen a variety, some folks want the reloadables while others go for the cakes (where you light one fuse and it shoots off a variety of styles and colors).
“My boss said he had several groups that were going to (municipal fireworks shows) and are going back to having their own. He had one group call in a $2,000 order. I have several neighborhoods that each year pool their money. They normally wait and come in the day of or the day before.”
While fireworks seem like clean, All-American fun, some cities – including Tupelo and Saltillo – have ordinances prohibiting the sale and use of fireworks inside the city limits. But with fireworks stands set up just outside city limits, city officials know there will be people shooting off fireworks Friday and Saturday nights.
Some people enjoy watching the multi-colored display provided by their neighbors. Others don’t and will call 911 to report the illegal activity.
“The Tupelo Police Department’s approach to these calls is from an educational standpoint,” said TPD spokesman Capt. Chuck McDougald. “If we can locate who is shooting the fireworks we advise them of the code and issue a warning.
“If that does not stop the behavior, then citations may have to be issued.”
State Fire Marshal Mike Chaney hopes that everyone who chooses to use fireworks at home will be cautious and follow safety guidelines. On average, 180 people go to the emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries in the month around the July 4th holiday, according to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission.
The risk of fireworks injury is highest for young people ages 0-4, followed by children 10-14. Sparklers, often a favorite with children, can reach up to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to cause third-degree burns.
While humans enjoy the explosions and bright colors filling the sky, the noise and flashes of light can be terrifying to unsuspecting pets. Many become scared or disoriented and try to escape by running away.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, animal shelters report a dramatic increase in the number of lost pets around the Fourth of July.
Officials suggest keeping pets indoors with a radio or television turned on to mask the explosions. If a pet has a history of being skittish around loud noises, veterinarians can prescribe medication or suggest techniques to relieve fear and anxiety. And to be safe, all pets should wear a collar with an ID tag.
Fireworks safety guidelines
Read warning labels and follow all instructions. Do not use fireworks in any way other than suggested on the label.
Keep a bucket of water or fire extinguisher on hand.
Light fireworks one at a time.
Dispose of all fireworks properly. Soak them all in water before throwing them away.
Do not light fireworks indoors or near other objects.
Do not point or throw fireworks at another person.
Do not re-light a malfunctioning “dud” or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
Dress appropriately. Loose fitting clothes could be a fire hazard or become tangled or caught.