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July 4 safety from the county sheriff’s office

(Chelsea Update would like to thank the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office for the information in this story.)

As you plan to gather with family and friends for the Fourth of July holiday, the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office and your local elected officials are urging you to celebrate safely.

Let’s enjoy the Fourth, obey fireworks laws, respect our neighbors and make sure our loved ones make it home safely at the end of the night.

When can I set off fireworks?

  • State law allows fireworks to be permitted on specific days during specified times. These days and times are:
  • Between 11 a.m. on Dec. 31 and 1 a.m. on Jan. 1
  • Between 11 a.m. and 11:45 p.m. on the Sat. and Sun. immediately preceding Memorial Day
  • Between 11 a.m. and 11:45 p.m. on June 29, June 30, July 1, July 2, July 3 and July 4
  • Between 11 a.m. and 11:45 p.m. on July 5, ONLY if that date is a Friday or Saturday
  • Between 11 a.m. and 11:45 p.m. on the Sat. and Sun. immediately preceding Labor Day

All across our county, we have had numerous calls of neighbors lighting fireworks in violation of state law and local ordinance.

As deputies respond to these calls, they will first attempt to educate the individual responsible in order to gain voluntary compliance. If the person violating the ordinance is observed in violation by the deputy and refuses to comply, we will issue citations.

However, in the event that a deputy did not witness the actual violation, a citation can only be issued if you (as a witness of the violation) are willing to sign the citation.

Fireworks Safety Tips:

  • Fireworks and being under the influence don’t mix. Just like you’d take the keys away from the person trying to drive while under the influence, make sure to take the lighter away from the intoxicated relative or friend who is trying to light the fireworks. 
  • Don’t let small children handle fireworks and older children should use them under close adult supervision.
  • Never place any part of your body directly over the fireworks when lighting the fuse. Make sure you move to a safe distance immediately after lighting.
  • Keep a bucket of water or garden hose handy, in case of a small fire or mishap. Remember, fireworks may still be too hot to touch even after they are done and appear safe.
  •  Do not relight or handle a “dud.” If the firework is malfunctioning soak it with water and throw it away.
  • Never light them indoors or try to ignite them inside of a container.
  • Keep in mind that although you won’t be under the influence when you’re driving home, it is important to be alert on a night when the accident rate is higher than normal.
  • You can help by not getting behind the wheel if you are under the influence and by helping friends and family find a safe way home.  Here are a few tips to prevent drivers from getting behind the wheel while they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Prevent Driving Under the Influence:

  • Have a safety plan before you leave home. 
  • Choose a non-drinking designated driver if you’re consuming alcohol.
  • Protect others by taking their keys if they attempt to drive while under the influence. They may be mad at you, but the alternative is much worse.
  • Ask for a ride, call a taxi or a ride sharing service.
  • If you’re throwing the party offer plenty of food and non-alcoholic drinks.  Monitor your guests and set the tone that no one gets behind the wheel while under the influence.

There are several signs associated with driving under the influence.  Keep these in mind to help avoid a dangerous situation.

If you identify a driver that is under the influence call 9-1-1.

Detecting Drunk Drivers:

  • Making wide turns
  • Weaving, swerving, drifting, or straddling the center line
  • Almost striking an object or vehicle
  • Driving on the wrong side of the road
  • Driving at a very slow speed
  • Stopping without cause
  • Braking erratically
  • Responding slowly to traffic signals
  • Turning abruptly or illegally
  • Driving after dark with headlights off
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