FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Major Lafayette Woods, Jr.
Operation Commander/Public Information Officer
SHERIFF URGES 4TH OF JULY WEEKEND SAFETY, WHILE GIVING A ZERO TOLERANCE WARNING FOR IMPAIRED DRIVERS AND BOATERS: Jefferson County, Arkansas – July 30, 2015- The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office wishes you and your family a safe and exciting 4th of July holiday weekend. The 4th of July holiday is a celebration of our becoming independent as a country on July 4, 1776.
"Deputies enforce traffic and criminal law every day in Jefferson County, but this weekend through July 4th, we will be beefing up patrol on the water and land to ensure all citizens make it to their celebrations and back home safely. Our deputy’s primary focus and safety concerns this 4th of July are boaters and/or motorists drinking and driving as well as the misuse of fireworks. We want citizens to enjoy this weekend but remember responsibility starts with you. If you drink, please do not get behind the wheel. Hand your keys over to a designated driver or call a friend or family member to pick you up. Don’t let one wrong decision be your last, said Sheriff Gerald Robinson.”
We understand that for century’s fireworks displays have been part of Independence Day festivities. Through attendance at a professional display or the purchase from an authorized seller of fireworks, many citizens will continue this tradition. However, we want citizens to understand that fireworks can be extremely dangerous if they are not handled responsibly and safely.
As they do each year, deputies and patrol boats will also be deployed in Lake Langhofer (Slack Water) and along other parts of the Arkansas River within Jefferson County to monitor boating traffic. Top priority for our deputies will be to keep drunk drivers off the roads and waterways, said Sheriff Robinson.”
“In 2014, Jefferson County Deputies arrested ten (10) motorists for Driving While Intoxicated and Public Intoxication in Jefferson County during the 4th of July holiday weekend. Last year that number dropped to zero and this year, we want the same number, said Major Lafayette Woods, Jr.”
For anyone who is traveling this 4th of July weekend, remember to always wear your seat belt and never drink and drive – instead, call a designated driver to get you home safely. Not only do you risk your life when you drive impaired, you are putting the other drivers you share the roadway with at risk, too.
Here are a few boating safety reminders:
- Boaters should ensure they designate a sober boat operator prior to their day of boating.
- Due to higher water, boaters should manage their wake responsibly. Channels, shorelines, and docks are among the areas for minimum wakes. Learn the rules for the lake where you will be boating.
- Life jackets are required by law to be worn by children age 12 and under at all times while on any vessel.
- Life jackets are required by law to be readily available for all persons on board.
- It is recommended that boaters of all ages wear a life jacket while boating.
- A fire extinguisher and a throwable device are also required on board every boat.
- Be aware of boat propellers. People who are re-entering the boat have been injured by propellers.
As an added layer of security, the Sheriff's Office will also be deploying it's mobile observation tower, “Skywatch”, which provides more than a twenty-five feet of aerial coverage used by deputies to gain a bird’s eye view of citizens crowding Saracen Landing and Regional Park to observe the fireworks display. The tower is equipped with a day/night vision infrared camera that is capable of recording live video footage to increase overall area security.
While it is legal to buy and use fireworks in the unincorporated areas of Jefferson County, if you are planning to spend the holiday at home with your family and plan on using fireworks, please make sure you practice safety and know that there are still some areas where the use of fireworks outside any city limits is prohibited. This includes within six hundred feet (600’) of any church, hospital, asylum, public school, or within two hundred feet (200’) of where fireworks are stored, sold, or offered for sale.
No person shall ignite or discharge any permissible articles of fireworks within, or throw the fireworks from, a motor vehicle while therein, nor shall any person place or throw any ignited article of fireworks into or at a motor vehicle or at or near any person or group of people.
Additionally, Arkansas’ “Fireworks Act” limits the types of fireworks that can be sold in the state and the amount of explosive material that each firework may contain. Firework vendors must obtain a state license and follow certain restrictions, including prohibitions against selling fireworks to anyone under the age of 12 or to anyone who appears to be intoxicated.
“Remember that fireworks can pose a fire and safety hazard to those who use them. We urge those who still choose to discharge consumer fireworks in spite of the grave danger can present to use the utmost caution. Remember that you are responsible civilly and possibly criminally for the damage or fires caused by your fireworks- even if they are legal, said Sheriff Robinson.”
Here are a few safety tips to keep in mind when using fireworks:
- Always have an adult closely supervise fireworks activities if older children are allowed to handle devices.
- Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.
- Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
- Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
- Never try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them with water and throw them away.
- Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
- Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
- Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
I have instructed our deputies to have a zero tolerance for impaired drivers and the use of illegal fireworks. There will be no warnings- citations will be issued or arrests will be made for the use or public possession of illegal fireworks, said Sheriff Robinson.”
The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office wishes everyone a fun and safe 4th of July weekend!