When it comes to fireworks safety this Fourth of July, Harbor Springs police chief Dan Branson said all advice boils down to this: "Don't blow your hands off, and don't set your property on fire."
Since the state passed a law allowing individuals to own, possess, and set off fireworks that were once illegal in Michigan, Branson said these rules need to be taken extra seriously.
"Fireworks that were prohibited here for a number of years are now allowed to be used the day before, on, and after a national holiday," Branson said. "That means more people are using bottle rockets, cherry bombs, and other similar fireworks. The law does state you must be 18 or older to do so."
With a long stretch of dry weather in northern Michigan, Branson stressed the police and fire departments are equally encouraging folks to take extra precautions when lighting fireworks of any kind.
"The woods and fields are definitely dry, and on a recent drive along the bluff, I noticed how dry things are there too. Even sparklers need monitoring, and we're just asking people to be very aware this year, even if we get a bit of rain before the Fourth."
In addition to fireworks safety, Branson said he always like to remind those in town to celebrate Independence Day to be aware of increased traffic, to remind children biking or walking to use caution around street corners and crossings, and to think twice about bringing dogs to crowded events.
"It seems like there has been an unfortunate uptick in drownings in northern Michigan this year," Branson added. "Use common sense out there. This is a national holiday week, and there will be lots of traffic in the harbor. We like to see people using the water and having a good time, but please, be very safe, especially when it comes to things like ensuring children are wearing lifejackets."