With the Victoria Day long weekend fast approaching, London city and fire officials are reminding those looking to take in some fireworks to exercise all safety precautions.
And that includes measures implemented due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Local officials are stressing the need for Londoners to keep following social distancing guidelines, as well as the province’s emergency orders that bar gatherings of more than five people, to flatten the curve of the virus’ spread.
“Like many celebrations this year, gatherings for fireworks will need to look different,” said Mayor Ed Holder in a statement Tuesday.
“I applaud all of the efforts Londoners have made to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our community.”
Pandemic or not, however, firework safety guidelines haven’t changed.
“We want to make sure that everyone, if they’re going to set off fireworks, that they do it safely,” said Matt Hepditch, London’s deputy fire chief on Wednesday.
In particular, Hepditch says only adults aware of the hazards and risks should handle and discharge fireworks, that all instructions be closely followed, and that one firework be lit at a time and only when they’re on the ground.
“Keep a pail of water or hose close by,” he said. “Make sure that they’re discharging fireworks well away from combustible materials like a shed, a home, a wooden deck, trees, things like that, and also making sure that family onlookers are kept a safe distance away.”
Dud fireworks that fizzle instead of boom should not be re-lit, and should instead be soaked with a bucket of water after 30 minutes and then disposed of in a metal container, fire officials say.
“We have to make sure, again, that people are following the manufacturer’s directions, making sure that they’re not smoking while setting off fireworks, and making sure that they’re not mixing alcohol with fireworks as well,” Hepditch said.
Parents are also being urged to keep sparklers away from young children, as the extreme heat can ignite clothing and cause blindness and severe burns.
“Our primary focus is the safety of the people of the city of London,” Hepditch said. “We don’t want to add any more additional taxing to our emergency services or to our hospitals.”
For those who would rather stay inside, or are unable to take in any outdoor fireworks displays, a local initiative has you covered.
Tourism London and Snapd Inc. have partnered to launch a smartphone app that lets you view virtual fireworks displays through augmented reality.
The app can be downloaded for free from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. More information can be found on the Snapd website.
Londoners looking to set off their own fireworks are also being reminded that city’s Fireworks By-Law allows the discharging of fireworks between dusk and 11 p.m. on Victoria Day.
The city adds its COVID-19 tip line is still active for residents who have concerns about pandemic-related non-compliance at 519-661-4660.