PIQUA — For this Fourth of July weekend, celebrating Independence Day comes with a heightened sense of caution due to the threat of terrorism that citizens are living with in today’s world.
“Particularly with the upcoming July Fourth holiday, here in the United States the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI continue to communicate with state and local law enforcement about what we know and see,” Secretary Jeh. C. Johnson of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security wrote in a statement. His statement was released after the recent terrorist attacks in France, Kuwait, and Tunisia on June 26.
According to the Associated Press, Yassin Salhi allegedly beheaded his boss at an U.S.-owned factory in southeast France on June 26. He was suspected of being a supporter of having ties to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). At the Tunisian resort of Sousse, 38 people were killed after Tunisian student and alleged ISIS supporter Seifeddine Rezgui reportedly opened fire on beachgoers. In Kuwait, a bombing killed at Shiite mosque killed 27 people.
A heightened wariness of terrorism should not cloud celebrations, though. In Johnson’s statement, he encouraged citizens not to be afraid and to continue to attend public events and celebrate Independence Day.
“In our great country, acts of mass violence will never divert, discourage or frighten us,” Johnson’s statement continued.
Johnson also encouraged both law enforcement and citizens to remain attentive as well.
“We are encouraging all law enforcement to be vigilant and prepared,” Johnson wrote.
“It’s always good to be vigilant and be aware of those warnings,” Piqua Chief of Police Bruce Jamison said. “It’s a threat that we’re under in this country.” Jamison also encouraged residents to not to be afraid of these warnings, but also not to forget about them completely.
“Don’t ignore them, but keep them in perspective and be aware of any suspicious activity,” Jamison said. Residents with concerns who may witness suspicious activity can feel free to report what they see to law enforcement.
“We’re happy to respond, and we appreciate the people being vigilant,” Jamison said. “If we get any specific credible threats, we will respond appropriately.”
While people should be aware of these threats, many of the same risks of accidents due to misusing fireworks and due to drinking and drinking should not be ignored.
“One of our biggest risks here in Piqua remains use of fireworks and the injuries that result from that,” Jamison said. “I would just encourage residents to enjoy our professional fireworks that we’re going to have for two nights here in Piqua.”
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), device malfunction and improper use are related to most injuries involving fireworks. “In 2013, there were eight deaths and an estimated 11,400 consumers sustained injuries related to fireworks,” according to the CPSC.
CPSC also released the following safety tips regarding fireworks:
- Make sure the fireworks are legal for use in the area
- Do not permit young children to play with or ignite fireworks, including Sparklers as they can burn at temperatures of approximately 2,000 degrees
- Adults should be present to supervise older children using legal fireworks
- Avoid purchasing fireworks that are packaged in brown paper, which may be a sign that they were created for professional displays and could be dangerous for users
- Do not place any part of the body right over a fireworks device while lighting the fuse
- Back away a safe distance right after lighting the fuse
- Have a bucket of water or garden hose nearby in case of a fire or other potential hazards
- Do not attempt to reignite or handle malfunctioning fireworks, but instead, soak them with water and throw them away
- Do not point or throw fireworks at other people
- Do not carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers
- After fireworks complete their burning, douse the used device with water before discarding the device to prevent a trash fire
Residents should be responsible during and after their celebrating, including using a designated sober driver, using a taxi service, or simply staying put. The Beer Institute released a statement with advice about connecting with a taxi service, stating, “Use your smart phone to connect with taxi companies and safe rides home, like Heineken USA partners Curb and Uber; Bud Light Taxi; or simply call (800) TAXICAB, supported by MillerCoors.”
“There’s going to be a long weekend and lots of opportunities to party with friends and family, but remember not to drink and drive,” Jamison said.