Jul. 2--TUPELO -- Most people know to use common sense and a healthy dose of caution with fireworks in the backyard.
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But not everyone thinks about how those Fourth of July staples affect their pets. Veterinarians say the loud noises and bright flashes can be stressful to dogs and cats.
"The best thing people can do is make sure they have ID tags on pets, especially outdoor dogs, so if they run away, they can be identified and easily returned," said Dr. Shelley Russell, a Tupelo veterinarian. "Sometimes, people will leave their dogs in the backyard. When someone starts shooting fireworks, their instincts kick in and they run away."
July 5 is traditionally one of the busiest days at animal shelters as people bring in displaced dogs.
"Unfortunately, one of the things we see is the dogs get confused by the fireworks and run out in the street and get hit by cars," Russell said. "If they are inside pets, we suggest you confine them to a quiet room and to play soft music for them."
While it is illegal to shoot fireworks in Tupelo, it is permitted in Lee County and its other municipalities. Most departments handle incidents on a per call basis. Officers explain the city ordinance to the offenders and most people get off with warnings.
If you do plan on shooting fireworks, officials recommend caution.
"The best piece of advice I can give is to always follow the manufacturer's directions," said Tupelo Fire Department fire investigator Jason Cross. "Every one of those directions is there for a good reason.
"The second thing is to keep them out of your hands. Fireworks are fun, but they are also explosives. And explosives can do a lot of damage to human flesh."
The risk of fireworks injury is highest for children, especially those under 14. Even the mundane sparklers, a favorite of younger children, can reach temperatures of 1,200 degrees, which can cause third-degree burns in less than a second. Sparklers accounted for 30 percent of fireworks injuries in 2014, according to statistics from the National Fire Protection Association.
For those choosing to use consumer fireworks, Mississippi State Fire Marshal Mike Chaney suggests following these safety tips:
--Use common sense and always read and follow the directions on each firework.
--Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
--Buy from reliable fireworks sellers. Store them in a cool, dry place.
--Always have an adult present when shooting fireworks.
--Put used fireworks in a bucket of water and have a hose ready.
--Only use fireworks outdoors, away from homes, dry grass, and trees.
--Light only one item at a time and keep a safe distance.
--Never re-ignite malfunctioning fireworks.
--Never give fireworks to small children.
--Never carry fireworks in your pocket.
--Never shoot fireworks in metal or glass containers.
There will be many professional fireworks displays open to the public throughout the area on the Fourth. Both Tupelo and Saltillo will host large fireworks displays Thursday around 9 p.m.
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