Keeping safe on the Fourth

Every year on the Fourth of July, animal control officers find dozens of frightened pets roaming the streets after being spooked by fireworks.

"The Fourth of July is the busiest day for humane societies and shelters throughout the country," said Ricky Whitman, a spokeswoman for the Pasadena Humane Society, which services Glendale. "Pets get frightened by the noise of fireworks. And when animals like this are frightened, they run."

With several firework shows scheduled in the region for Sunday's holiday, Whitman said residents should make sure their pets are kept secure indoors and in an isolated room as far away from the booming noises of fireworks as possible.

Whitman said some animals react worse than others, recounting stories of dogs attempting to jump through glass windows.

"It can be very serious," she said.

Pets should also be properly tagged with current identification and contact information. In case a pet is lost, the Pasadena Humane Society shelter will be open on Monday for residents seeking their animals, Whitman said.

At the same time, fire officials are reminding residents that all fireworks are illegal in La Crescenta, Glendale and Burbank.

"Everybody is on high alert," said Burbank Fire Capt. Ron Bell. "All of our engine companies in Burbank will be cruising areas, reminding people that fireworks are illegal. We will be confiscating fireworks and writing citations for people."

Officials encouraged residents to instead attend one of the many fireworks shows scheduled in the region, including in Burbank, Pasadena and La Crescenta.

Many people don't understand the dangers associated with fireworks, which can cause severe burns and spark fires, officials said.

Fireworks are the cause of most injuries seen by emergency room doctors at Glendale Memorial Hospital on the July 4 holiday each year, said hospital spokeswoman Amy Okin.

Other injuries include burns from hot grills, heat exhaustion, bee stings, insect bites and food poisoning, she said.

Even sparklers, can be dangerous, especially for children, officials said.

"Handing a sparkler that can burn up to 2,000 degrees to a 5-year-old child and saying, 'Have fun' — over the years it's been proven that that's just not a good idea to do," Bell said.

In an average year, the Fourth of July has more reported fires than any other year, and more than half are caused by fireworks, according to the National Fire Protection Assn.

Glendale Fire Capt. Vince Rifino said any residents who see fireworks being set off should contact local officials by calling 911.

"The brush is already starting to dry out," Rifino said. "The community has to stay vigilant in maintaining a safe neighborhood."


Pet Tips:

•- Turn on a radio to muffle the sound of fireworks.

•- If your pet begins to cry, pace or show anxious behaviors, do not pet or otherwise attempt to calm your animal, which can reinforce the behavior.

• Do not bring your pet to an event that may have fireworks.

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