CHEYENNE – There’s even more reasons to celebrate the Fourth of July this year. With health restrictions related to COVID-19 (nearly all) lifted, and vaccines widely available, most of us want to crack open a cold one, throw on a star-spangled outfit and kick back with all the loved ones we missed hanging out with last year.

But there’s a few things to keep in mind to make sure your gathering remains as safe as possible.

“Fourth of July brings a lot of fun and enjoyment, from outdoor grilling and water activities to fireworks displays and celebratory parades,” Kasandra Moloney, operations manager for AMR Cheyenne, said in a news release. “No matter your family’s plans, it is essential to make sure everyone stays safe during this year’s festivities.”

Health and safety

First and foremost, the COVID-19 pandemic is not over. If you’re not vaccinated, the CDC still recommends avoiding large gatherings. If you do attend a Fourth of July party, it’s recommended that you wear a mask and socially distance from other event-goers.

Fireworks safety

Fireworks safety is also critical to keep in mind during Independence Day festivities, but depending on where you are, you might not be allowed to shoot off pyrotechnics in the first place.

In Cheyenne, city ordinances prohibit the use of consumer fireworks, and violators could be subject to a $225 fine. The only novelties that are legal for sale and use in city limits are sparklers, smoke devices (smoke balls, cones and candles), party poppers and snaps.

Even these permitted items, however, are prohibited on any public property, including parks, schools, streets, alleys and any other public right of ways in Cheyenne. Outside of city limits in Laramie County, the only restrictions are that residents may only light fireworks on their own property and can’t set them off from roadways.

If you’re planning to set off pyrotechnics or related novelties this Independence Day, AMR Cheyenne recommends the following:

  • Keep a bucket of water or a hose nearby as a precaution (and to soak all fireworks in before throwing them in a sealed trash can that remains outside).
  • Wear eye protection.
  • Never use fireworks while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Ignite only one firework at a time, and never attempt to relight duds.
  • Do not aim, throw or point fireworks at people, animals, vehicles or structures.
  • Never give children fireworks.

Patryk Aumiller, head cashier at Phantom Fireworks of Cheyenne, added that there are different safety tips to keep in mind, depending on the type of fireworks you’re setting off.

“Using the bigger cakes and mortar shows that we have, it’s more safe to have them on flat ground, with surrounding big rocks holding them in place, so that way they are less likely to tip or flip over when being launched,” he said.

Phantom Fireworks recommends lighting all types of fireworks with your arm extended away from you using an extended butane lighting device, a punk or a flare. Light the fuse only on the tip, and position yourself as far from the product as possible before extending your arm out using the extended lighting device.

It’s also imperative, Aumiller said, to make sure you’re not setting off pyrotechnics anywhere near dry, grassy areas. He recommends maintaining at least 50 feet of distance from any buildings or power lines when setting up, and to use a flashlight once the sun starts to set so you can see exactly what you’re doing.

Aumiller also recommends using the 2021 Fireworks Safe Shoot Site at 2275 W. College Drive, which is accessible via Interstate 25, exit 7. This site is open to anyone who purchases fireworks from Pyro City Fireworks, Fireworks Outlet, Phantom Fireworks and USA Fireworks (customers will be given a shooter permit at checkout).

Grilling safety

There’s another fire-related activity that can cause problems on the Fourth of July. AMR Cheyenne notes that there’s nothing wrong with firing up the grill to make a holiday meal, but it’s important to keep the following in mind:

  • Store perishable foods at the proper temperature until you are ready to begin cooking.
  • If using a cooler, make sure you pack plenty of ice or freezer packs.
  • Never leave a barbecue unattended while lit.
  • Select a location away from children, pets or flammable objects.
  • Keep the grill clean by removing excess grease and residue.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher close by.
  • Use long-handled tongs and spatulas with heat-resistant handles.

Heat safety

At the time of this writing, the projected high this Fourth of July on Sunday is 87 degrees Fahrenheit. AMR Cheyenne recommends anyone planning to spend much of their day outside keeps the following in mind:

  • Drink plenty of fluids, especially water, and avoid beverages with caffeine, sugar or alcohol.
  • If your home is not air-conditioned, look for nearby cooling shelters, or spend the day in a cool public space like a library, community center or local shopping mall.
  • Wear lightweight and light-colored clothing and don a hat and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun’s rays.
  • Apply sunscreen to exposed skin and be sure to reapply it every two hours.
  • Try to limit physical activities to the coolest parts of the day, like morning and evening.
  • Do not leave children, elderly persons or pets in cars.

Niki Kottmann is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s features editor. She can be reached at nkottmann@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3135. Follow her on Twitter at @niki_mariee.

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