Fireworks safety stressed

Advocate staff photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNONKathlean Barr, of Plaucheville, loads up Friday on fireworks at Pyro City in Port Allen in preparation for her annual New Year's Eve party. She said she  and her husband light all the fireworks, only giving sparklers to her nieces and nephews.
Advocate staff photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNONKathlean Barr, of Plaucheville, loads up Friday on fireworks at Pyro City in Port Allen in preparation for her annual New Year's Eve party. She said she and her husband light all the fireworks, only giving sparklers to her nieces and nephews.

East Baton Rouge warns of confiscations, targets drunken drivers

Fireworks sales and party planning in the Baton Rouge area are ramping up as the new year approaches, and authorities want to remind party-goers and others that safety should be first on their minds.

“Citizens are reminded that fireworks of any kind are illegal throughout all of East Baton Rouge Parish and anyone found discharging fireworks will have them confiscated and is also subject to being charged with a criminal offense,” Baton Rouge police spokesman Lt. Don Kelly said in an email.

Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Casey Rayborn Hicks said deputies will also be out looking for illegal fireworks and can seize any they find.

Police spokesman Cpl. L’Jean McKneely said anyone found firing guns into the air will be arrested on illegal discharge of a firearm.

Both Hicks and Kelly said they will also have extra patrols looking for drunken drivers.

Also in East Baton Rouge Parish, the free Budweiser Safe Ride Home program is being sponsored again this year by Mockler Beverage Budweiser. Call Yellow Cab at (225) 926-6400 (7 p.m. to 3 a.m.) through Jan. 1 or Guy’s Towing at (225) 275-6411 (24 hours) through Jan. 2.

State Fire Marshal Butch Browning also cautioned against misuse of fireworks.

“You gotta be responsible with this,” he said. “Safety is the key if you choose to do it.”

Browning said people igniting fireworks should keep fire extinguishers or a water hose or bucket nearby.

If someone is burned from a pyrotechnic mishap, flush the burn with cool water for about 15 minutes and seek medical attention, Browning said. If the burn is severe, seek immediate medical attention, he said.

Browning added that people should not light fireworks near a house, vehicle or dry areas, and children should observe and enjoy fireworks, but not handle them.

Firework vendors also stressed safety during the holidays.

Larry Vicari, store manager of Red Rocket Fireworks Co. Inc., said there are several signs promoting safe use of fireworks inside his store.

“Safety is always at the front, paramount for owners,” Vicari said. “It’s our biggest concern.”

He said he fields more questions about safety when people are buying fireworks for a party where children will be present than he does for parties for adults, who mostly inquire about which ones make the most noise or have the biggest explosions.

Browning said vendors sell fireworks twice a year, July Fourth and the Christmas/New Year’s holiday stretch, and marshals inspect vendors statewide, checking for proper safety precautions inside their stores and for illegal fireworks.

Browning said Louisiana vendors are required to purchase fireworks from a wholesaler certified by his office. He said the wholesalers do not sell illegal fireworks, which are not certified by the federal government and are usually unwrapped or in brown paper bags with names like “M80,” and “Cherry Bombs.”

Browning said sky lanterns, which are papier-mâché balloons with candles inside, are also banned because they fly away and possibly land in wooded areas, creating a fire hazard. He said he knows of six or seven fires started by wayward lanterns in the past three years.