Next week, people across the nation will be celebrating Independence Day. While many Americans are patriotic throughout the year, the Fourth of July gives us the opportunity to really show our red-white-and-blue spirit. We typically celebrate our freedom and independence with barbeques, picnics, and family gatherings. Fireworks displays are traditionally a big part of these festivities.
According to Prevent Blindness America, nearly 13,000 fireworks victims keep hospitals busy every year. More than half of those injured are children. Fireworks not only injure users, but also 40 percent of fireworks mishaps injure bystanders.
The three types of fireworks that keep hospital emergency rooms busy during this holiday period are bottle rockets, firecrackers, and sparklers. Bottle rockets and firecrackers can fly in any direction prior to exploding and sparklers burn at temperatures hot enough to melt gold.
To protect the safety of our residents, O’Fallon enacted an ordinance many years ago that prohibits most types of fireworks from being detonated within the city limits. Examples of what is prohibited under Ordinance 1557 include firecrackers, torpedoes, bottle rockets, Roman candles, bombs, or other fireworks of like construction. Please note, sky lanterns are prohibited as well.
The types of items that can be used are snake or glow worm pellets, smoke devices, trick noisemakers known as “party poppers,” booby traps, snappers, trick matches, cigarette loads, and auto burglar alarms. Sparklers, toy pistols, toy canes, toy guns or other devices in which paper or plastic caps containing 0.25 grains or less of explosive compound are used, are also allowed, providing they are constructed so that the hand cannot come in contact with the cap when in place for the explosion.
Structure fires resulting from fireworks are also a very large concern. Due to the high temperatures and lack of rainfall during this time of year, the dangers of fireworks causing field and structure fires increases. Every year, the O’Fallon Fire Department responds to at least one structure fire caused by fireworks.
Some may think that fireworks are all in good fun. But please be considerate of your neighbors. Some may have pets that fear the loud noises generated by fireworks. Some of your neighbors may have sleeping babies or children that will be awoken by the loud booms. Or some may have neighbors that experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and fireworks may cause them fear and/or pain.
Our police department typically receives between 50 and 100 fireworks complaints during the Fourth of July holiday season. In the past, police officers have made every effort to use discretion in the enforcement of this ban, and we have relied heavily on warnings in place of issuing formal charges for violating the ordinance. In most cases, these warnings have the desired effect of educating those who were not aware that most fireworks are illegal in the city of O’Fallon, and most people comply voluntarily. Unfortunately, some have taken advantage of these warnings only to return to the illegal activity as soon as the officer has left the area. Repeated violations will result in written citations and fireworks will be confiscated.
While certain types of fireworks can be legally used in the city, I highly encourage the citizens of O’Fallon to attend one of the many professional fireworks displays that occur in close proximity to our city. Why take the risk of injury to yourself and your family when you can safely view a spectacular show that is put on by professionals?
Bus stop trash pickup
On a separate note, I wanted to inform everyone that when we went out to bid for our waste hauler contract this spring, we asked that the winning bidder provide pickup of trash at several bus stops in O’Fallon. This will help us keep O’Fallon looking clean. Waste Management, our trash hauler, will pick up the trash. St. Clair County Transit District will be paying for the receptacles and the city will pour the concrete pads where they will sit. The 10 locations that will soon see a new trash receptacle are:
- W. U.S. 50 at St. Ellen
- W. U.S. 50 at Dean
- Regency Park in front of the Extended Stay America
- Regency Park near the Hilton Garden Inn
- Green Mount Road near Central Park
- Cambridge near Green Mount Road
- W. U.S. 50 at Green Mount Road
- W. U.S. 50 near Lawn
- Weber near E. U.S. 50
- 1st Street at Smiley
These sites were chosen due to their high use and visible location.
As residents of O’Fallon, you should always be able to reach out to your elected officials and ask questions about what is happening in O’Fallon. Having open communications is important to me and something I care very deeply about. Thank you for reading, and please remember, my door is always open.