Fireworks for sale

Chris Eldridge sets firework on a table under a tent in the Walmart parking lot off Milwaukee Road Tuesday. The fireworks are being sold as a fundraiser for the Cornerstone Church in Beloit. The church has held the fireworks fundraiser for 19 years.

BELOIT—Fireworks complaints are up in Beloit, and law enforcement believe the surge could be due to organized Fourth of July events being cancelled in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the July 4 holiday just days away, the Beloit Fire Department wants residents to consider forgoing fireworks all together and celebrating the holiday with glow sticks, confetti poppers or colored streamers.

“Summer is usually synonymous with barbecues, parades and fireworks—even if some of that’s on hold this year for COVID-19,” said Fire Chief Dan Pease.

Since May 1, the Beloit Police Department has received 143 fireworks-related complaints, over double the number of complaints received in the time period last year when 71 complaints were made, department data shows. Data for this year and 2019 both eclipsed the 2018 total of 47 fireworks-related complaints.

Fines for unlawful possession or unlawful use of fireworks in Beloit carries potential fines of $100 for a first offense, $200 for a second offense and $500 for a third offense.

In the Town of Beloit, violators could face a fine of $263.50 per citation. Town of Beloit Police Chief Ron Northrop said officers would follow up on all fireworks-related complaints.

In South Beloit, Police Chief Adam Truman said he expects officers to be busy following up on fireworks-related complaints this summer. South Beloit fines for illegal fireworks range from $100 for a first offense, $300 for a second offense and $500 for a third offense.

On average, 180 seek emergency room medical care every day with fireworks-related injuries in the month around the July 4 holiday between June 21 and July 21, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

In 2019, 12 non-occupational, fireworks-related deaths were reported in 2019, and involved in an estimated 10,000 injuries last year. Of the injuries reported in 2019, 66% of those injured were males and 34% were females, CPSC data shows.

Fire Safety Tips for using fireworks from the Beloit Fire Department:

• Never allow young children to handle fireworks—Including sparklers

• Never use fireworks while impaired by drugs or alcohol

• Anyone using fireworks or standing nearby should wear protective eyewear

• Never light fireworks indoors

• Only use them away from people, houses and flammable material

• Never point or throw fireworks at another person

• Never ignite devices in a container

• Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks

• Soak both used and unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding

• Never use illegal fireworks

• Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don’t go off or in case of fire

• Obey all local laws- In Beloit only class III fireworks are allowed.

• Never hold lighted fireworks in your hands. Place fireworks on the ground before lighting to avoid accidental hand burns or dropping the firework

• Only light one device at a time and maintain a safe distance after lighting. Do not light fireworks in windy conditions that can affect how the sparks fly.