Officials Offer Safety Tips for Fourth of July is your source for free news and information in Williamsburg, James City & York Counties.

People enjoy fireworks at the Yorktown Waterfront during a past Fourth of July celebration. (Courtesy York County)
People enjoy fireworks at the Yorktown Waterfront during a past Fourth of July celebration. (Courtesy York County)

Fireworks, barbecues, traveling and beach bumming are in the forecast for many Virginians this weekend, but officials are asking residents to follow safe practices while enjoying themselves.

Selling and setting off fireworks and igniting sparklers in the City of Williamsburg and the counties of James City and York are prohibited without the proper permits, so authorities from all three localities suggest leaving fireworks displays to trained professionals.

“Even the seemingly innocent sparkler can be dangerous, especially in the hands of little ones,” said York County Fire and Life Safety Chief Steve Kopczynski, adding sparklers account for four out of five injuries to children under 5.

Nationwide, doctors treated an estimated 11,400 patients for fireworks-related injuries in 2013.

Williamsburg Fire Department spokesperson Eric Stone suggested people attending a public fireworks show stand at least 500 feet away from the firing site.

Saturday’s public firework displays around the Historic Triangle can be found here.

In James City County, residents can turn in their fireworks to any fire station without penalty. If citizens see fireworks for sale in the county, they can report it to fire administration at 220-0626.

Those cooking on the grill for a Fourth of July feast should follow these tips from the local fire departments:

  • Propane & charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors.
  • The grill should be placed well away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grill area.
  • Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.
  • Never leave your grill unattended.
  • Always make sure your gas grill lid is open before lighting it.
  • Keep your grill at least 25 feet away from your home when using it.

Although meteorologists are predicting storms and rain throughout the weekend in the Historic Triangle, beach time may be an option for some citizens.

The York County Department of Fire and Life Safety is asking beach goers to follow these safety tips:

  • While you are enjoying the water, keep alert and check the local weather conditions.
  • Make sure you swim sober and that you never swim alone.
  • Do not dive headfirst – protect your neck. Check the depth and obstructions before diving and go in feet first.
  • Pay especially close attention to children and elderly persons when at the beach. Even in shallow water, wave action can cause a loss of footing.
  • Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard approved life jackets in and around the water.
  • If you are in trouble, draw attention to yourself by waving and calling for help.
  • If someone is in trouble, call 911 immediately. Throw the victim something that floats: a lifejacket, cooler or an inflatable beach ball.

In addition, grilling and camp fires are not allowed on Yorktown Beach. The use of a grill is limited to the National Park Service picnic area, which is closed to the public Saturday during the Fourth of July event.

Nearly 1 million people are expected to travel by car along Virginia’s roads for this year’s Independence Day weekend, making it the highest traveling holiday since 2007.

The Virginia Department of Transportation has made it easier for drivers traveling around the state this weekend and has suspended many road closures, including High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) restrictions.

Georjeane Blumling with AAA’s mid-Atlantic region suggested drivers check their cars’ oil, batteries, radiators, tires, windshield wipers, lights and signals are all working properly before hitting the road.

Blumling recommended drivers check the weather forecasts before heading out, share driving duties with other passengers and buckle seat belts at all times.