Officials share fireworks safety tips for people, pets

MORGANTOWN — Fireworks season is here and if you haven’t heard them already, you will soon.

Jason Modlik, co-owner of Fireworks Planet, said he’s been operating a stand in Morgantown for three years, since the law changed to allow West Virginians to buy roman candles, mortars, repeater cakes and bottle rockets.

“The first year was a little shaky because most people didn’t know the law had changed,” he said. “The second year was good, and we’re anticipating this year to be better.”

Morgantown Fire Chief Mark Caravasos said his department has a lot of experience dealing with fireworks, and call volume typically increases during holidays where fireworks are common.

“The biggest thing is safety,” he said. “Fireworks are dangerous.”

Fireworks are flammable, explosive and can injure or “even kill you,” he said. He recommended following the manufacturer instructions for launching and making sure the person launching is a sober adult.

Modlik said his number one safety rule is “don’t put your face over anything.” He also echoed a warning given by Caravasos about dud fireworks. The chief recommended that if a firework does not go off to wait at least 30 minutes and then soak it with water before handling it. Modlik said dud fireworks can sometimes go off after 10 minutes without ever smoking or giving a warning sign.

A lot of safety comes down to common sense, Modlik said. For example, don’t shoot Roman Candles at people and if it’s too dry don’t set off fireworks, he said.

Both Modlik and Caravasos suggested keeping a bucket of water and a hose ready in case something goes wrong.

Furry friends

While fireworks may excite and entertain people, many animals are terrified of the loud, sudden noises they produce. A Phantom Fireworks Companies press release stated that it just takes a little extra effort to spare pets the trauma they sometimes experience from fireworks.

Dana Johnson, Mon County dog warden supervisor, said the best thing dog owners can do is take preventative measures to help calm and comfort their pet.

“There are tools out there that can help with dogs who really get freaked out by thunder and fireworks,” she said.

One of those tools is called a ThunderShirt. Johnson said the shirt is a vest that holds the dog tight and confined.

“It really is proven to work if owners know something like fireworks is going to be happening,” she said.

Veterinarians also have options to help keep dogs calms including stress reducing pheromones and medication, Johnson said.

Phantom Fireworks Companies recommend turning on the TV or radio, and air conditioning to help mask the noise of fireworks. The company also suggested walking your pets prior to the fireworks in the hopes they sleep through them.

While some dogs hide from fireworks, others bolt. Johnson said every year wardens encounter a few dogs that run away from home due to fireworks, but that most owners know their animal has an adverse reaction and are prepared.

If that happens, she said, the first place an owner should look for their dog is the Monongalia County Canine Adoption Center. Wardens do not respond to running at large calls on holidays or weekends, but the next business day, if your dog still hasn’t returned home, owners should report it missing.

The center follows a strict no-phone policy for lost and found animals. Owners should email with the date the animal was lost, area the animal is missing from and a contact phone number.

Owners can also bring a printed out lost poster to hang on the board at the center.

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