Do you really need all five fingers?
The City of Lakewood is unveiling new public education graphics and increased penalties to try to stem the dangerous use of illegal fireworks during the July 4th holiday.
Over 5,000 Americans are injured every year from the use of skyrockets, firecrackers and other fireworks that are illegal in Lakewood and many other communities. The loss of fingers, hands and eyes is often the end result. Over a third of those injured are children.
Injuries and tragedies last year in California include an:
• 8-year-old boy who lost his hand from an illegal fireworks explosion. The boy’s father was investigated for child endangerment.
• 18-year-old man who lost three fingers lighting a skyrocket.
Here in Lakewood:
• A family home in Lakewood was heavily damaged in 2015 from a roof fire caused by an illegal skyrocket launched by a neighbor “just having fun.” It took two years for the family’s home to be rebuilt. Many of their personal possessions and lifetime keepsakes were lost for good.
• A home in Lakewood was completely destroyed in 2006 when illegal fireworks exploded there. Neighboring homes suffered damage.
• Every July 4th many Lakewood residents are upset and even terrified by illegal fireworks set off by neighbors. They worry about the safety of their homes from a potential roof fire. Military veterans suffering from PTSD and family pets vulnerable to explosive sounds are among the innocent victims of illegal fireworks.
To discourage residents from using skyrockets, firecrackers and other illegal fireworks this coming July 4th, the City of Lakewood is undertaking a new public education and enforcement campaign with several new or enhanced approaches:
• New graphics and educational materials to explain the dangers that people pose to themselves, their children and their neighbors by using illegal fireworks.
• The city is enhancing its current fine of $1,000 for illegal fireworks use by adding a $250 Fire Marshal disposal fee and other charges that will double the penalty to $2,000 or more.
• The city is paying for extra Sheriff’s Deputies to patrol on July 4th to shut down illegal fireworks displays and issue citations to those responsible, including property owners. Last year, Sheriff’s Deputies issued 77 citations for illegal fireworks use in Lakewood, with many citations for $1,000.
The City of Lakewood wants residents to enjoy the use of “safe and sane” fireworks that are legally sold at fireworks stands by Lakewood community groups. “Safe and sane” fireworks do not explode or launch into the air, and have a seal of approved from the CA Fire Marshal.
“Families and neighborhood gatherings can have a perfectly good and patriotic time with ‘safe and sane’ fireworks like fountains and cones,” says Lakewood City Manager Thaddeus McCormack. “I encourage Lakewood residents to have fun this July 4th but to not patronize events with illegal fireworks, like skyrockets, firecrackers and explosives. Those illegal fireworks can cause injury, death, house fires…and a major legal headache and cost.”
If you think someone is planning to use illegal fireworks, call the Lakewood Sheriff’s Station at 562-623-3500 or email the city at Service1@lakewoodcity.org (prior to July 4th). You can keep your tip confidential. If Sheriff’s Deputies know of illegal fireworks parties in advance, that provides the best opportunity to prevent the fireworks from being used and keeping everyone in the neighborhood safe.
On July 4th, residents spotting illegal fireworks in use can call the Sheriff’s Station too.
Do your part as a good neighbor to celebrate July 4th responsibly and discourage the use of dangerous illegal fireworks in Lakewood.