Thursday, July 3, 2014

Boise Emergency Responders on the 4th of July: 'We Hold Our Breath'

Posted By on Thu, Jul 3, 2014 at 2:39 PM

While most holiday revelers dial down the anxiety over the long Fourth of July holiday weekend, emergency responders and caregivers are set to, once again, dial up their focus in dealing with the effects of mixing fun and fireworks.

“Fireworks can still be family-friendly,” Ken Dey told Boise Weekly. “Just don’t shoot the fireworks high, have the adults light the fireworks, and make sure there’s water nearby.”

Dey should know. He's the spokesman for St. Luke's Health System. Many of his colleagues won't be celebrating on Independence Day. They'll be busy caregiving at medical centers throughout
southern Idaho.

Meanwhile the Boise Fire Department will be on alert as well. In fact, the fire department has set up a special webpage for fireworks safety, offering numerous safety tips—from placing pets indoors, to lighting one firework at a time, to soaking used fireworks in a bucket of water to avoid post-fun fires.

“Be extra careful with sparklers, especially with the little kids” said Dey. According to the Idaho Society of Ophthalmology, sparklers can burn at temperatures up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit."

Dey points to community-sponsored fireworks events and giving small children glow sticks instead of sparklers. However, he said the St. Luke’s emergency room hasn’t seen any critical fire-caused injuries in the last five years.

“Most people are pretty safe,” Dey said.

As can be expected, the Fourth of July weekend can be stressful time for Boise firefighters, with more staff brought in to work the long weekend.

“Every year we hold our breath,” said Lynn Hightower, spokeswoman for the Boise Fire and Police departments, adding that a disproportionate number of grass and structure fires ignite on, and around, the Fourth. “We just hope it’s not going to happen to us,” she said.

“There are lots of small grass fires from fireworks landing in dry vegetation,” added Boise Fire Capt. Jerry McAdams. “Low humidity and high vegetation. We had a wet spring, so there was lots of growth.”

McAdams told BW that he lights so-called "safe and sane" fireworks with his wife and children while off duty, but while on duty, he has to be ready for anything.

“It is insane,” McAdams said.

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