Practice safety to celebrate Fourth of July

Published 6:00 am Saturday, July 2, 2016

By Mrudvi Bakshi

Ahead of the Fourth of July festivities, officials urge locals to keep safety first while enjoying the long weekend.

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Oxford Fire Department’s life safety educator, William Stuart, advises safety should be of prime importance when handling fireworks.

“Exercising caution when lighting a firework is extremely important and avoid misusing them to abstain from injuries,” Stuart said. “Children should not be allowed to handle fireworks in the absence of any adult supervision. With uncertain weather conditions, make sure it’s not too dry outside to avoid blazes. Always

be sure to have a water source nearby in case an emergency arises.”

Sparklers, in particular, are a family favorite, but they burn at high temperatures and need to be studied well prior to their usage. Children can get burned by extreme heat from holding a sparkler incorrectly, so supervision is recommended.

Officers out in force

While parents are looking after children, the Oxford Police Department will be ensuring safety on the road.

“We don’t have a lot of accidents as most of the crowd is out traveling,” said OPD Maj. Jeff McCutchen. “For those still in town, we are going to put in extra efforts to be visible and warn them against things they shouldn’t be doing.”

Due to a stream of celebrations taking place in Oxford and Lafayette County throughout the weekend, more than usual traffic is expected and drivers are advised to be cautions on the roads. Officials recommend that seat belts should be worn at all times, speed limits adhered to and avoid drinking and driving.

The Mississippi Highway Patrol will begin the Fourth of July holiday enforcement period on Friday at 6 p.m. and conclude Monday at midnight.

With the anticipation of heavy traffic flow throughout the state, all available troopers will be assigned saturation patrols in an effort to maximize visibility and reduce traffic crashes. Motorists should be aware of the fine increase concerning texting while driving in Mississippi, which also goes into effect Friday. The fine will increase from $25 to $100 and will be strictly enforced to combat distracted driving. Safety checkpoints will be established during the period to remove impaired drivers from the roadways and promote seat belt usage.

In 2015, MHP investigated 138 crashes with two fatalities and made 125 DUI arrests on state and federal highway systems throughout the holiday period.

“We want to pull out the celebration to the best of our ability,” McCutchen said, “Be cautious and mindful on the roads, and report to the department if you come across anything suspicious.”