VB officials will be on the lookout for illegal fireworks this July 4

Virginia Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – The Fourth of July is right around the corner, but many of the usual festivities like firework displays are canceled due to the coronavirus.

But if you’ve heard fireworks at night, you’re not alone. It means people are still finding a way to celebrate.

The local fire department urges you to avoid taking it upon yourself to host a fireworks display, because even a sparkler can be dangerous.

“In that time period last year from May 23 to June 24, there was 71 calls to the dispatchers from people talking about fireworks going off in their neighborhood. For that same month-long period this year, there were 250 complaints,” said Art Kohn with the Virginia Beach Fire Department.

Kohn said he believes the pandemic’s guidelines are why people are putting themselves in harm’s way.

“We are very concerned that there will be an increase in the use of illegal fireworks,” he said.

Illegal fireworks may sometimes be viewed as harmless fun.

“Just because it doesn’t make a big bang doesn’t mean it isn’t dangerous. Anything that burns that hot and that quickly is dangerous,” he explained.

On Tuesday, the fire and police department in Virginia Beach demonstrated how anything from a sparkler to shower cakes can quickly cause injury.

“We are trying to be as proactive as we can to get the message out so people understand that there is more to these devices than we think. And everyone who uses them thinks it’s going to be okay. They’re not going to be the ones who get hurt until they end up in the emergency room,” said Kohn.

Linda Kuehn with Virginia Beach Police wants to also remind everyone that the activity is illegal.

“It is a class 1 misdemeanor to have fireworks, so just think of the potential consequences,” she said.

But Kohn says there are other options for you and your family.

“There are glow sticks … that come in all different colors red white and blue,” he said as he suggested using colorful devices that require only batteries. “Aside from the safety factor, you can use them over and over and over again.”

Both the fire department and the police say there will be extra patrols and teams around the holiday weekend to monitor firework use.

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