Enjoy, and plan, for the Fourth

The first holiday of the summer is upon us and as Fourth of July is celebrated the Dunkirk Police Department has a few safety tips that could make your celebration safe and happy.

Fireworks are a traditional part of celebrating the Fourth of July and can be a safe and enjoyable part of the holiday if left to the professionals. With the exception of the licensed professionals, possession and use of dangerous fireworks are illegal. Use of dangerous fireworks can cause serious injuries especially to children.

Even though sparklers are legal during the July holiday we urge parents to supervise their children with the use of sparklers as they can still cause injury if not used properly. New laws enacted in recent years now carry more severe punishment for the possession, furnishing and sale of dangerous fireworks. Selling furnishing or exposing for sale any dangerous fireworks to persons under the age of 18 can now be punishable by a felony which can carry a sentence in excess of one year in jail.

Anyone arrested for just possessing fireworks can be punished by up to a year in jail. Police in neighboring States also pay close attention to New York residents who purchase fireworks and intend to transport them into New York. Anyone who possesses fireworks can turn them into the Dunkirk Police Department without worry of being charged. We have issued a zero-tolerance order on arrests related to possession and use of dangerous fireworks.

Many activities are planned for July Fourth such as music and food vendors in Memorial Park. There will be a fireworks display from the City Pier at dusk on July Fourth and we invite everyone to come to the waterfront and enjoy the show. The City Pier will be completely closed at 5 p.m. on July Fourth. On July Fourth if possible please park in the City Parking Lots near Second and Washington, Third and Central and areas away from Lakeshore Drive and walk to the Waterfront area. Due to the heavy amount of traffic this helps alleviate traffic congestion. As parking becomes limited later in the evening please do not park in a spot where you will obstruct or block the safe flow of traffic and access for Emergency Vehicles. In doing so your vehicle may be towed.

When leaving the area after the fireworks please use Central Avenue, Main Street, Brigham Road, and South Roberts Road as they will provide the quickest routes away from the waterfront area.

Many traffic lights will be on flash and there will be police officers and Fire Police at intersections, please be patient with them and follow their directions. All efforts should be made to avoid Lakeshore Drive as it will have heavy traffic volume during the evening. Please make right hand turns only when exiting side streets and lots to help with traffic congestion. Please use crosswalks when crossing roadways.

Please be courteous with loud music from vehicles and residences. If they violate the noise ordinance you can be charged with a violation.

Those who will be enjoying the city’s parks and beaches are also reminded to obey all of the rules regarding alcohol consumption, no glass containers allowed in any city park areas, noise, dog restrictions/cleaning up after them and parking regulations. No parking on the grass areas of any parks.

Please keep all dogs on a leash and a safe distance from other people. We also remind pet owners that some animals can be sensitive to loud noises so please make sure to keep an extra eyen on them during July Fourth activities. A Fourth of July family holiday outing can be ruined by those who disregard the laws and are not courteous. We remind everyone about bicycle safety rules, all bicycles must follow the rules as if they were operating a motor vehicle, helmets are required for bicyclist under the age of 14. For pedestrians that walk in the roadway, you must walk single file facing traffic and you can’t obstruct traffic.

Also this holiday and as always if you have celebrated too much and can’t safely and responsibly operate your vehicle please don’t. Have a designated driver, find a designated driver, walk or take a taxi. Real friends won’t let someone they love get behind the wheel and operate a vehicle when they know it can’t be done safely. Avoid confronting aggressive drivers and report any unsafe operation to the Police. Please remember to wear a seatbelt and make sure that children are properly secured in a child safety seat, it’s a proven fact that seatbelts and child safety seats save lives. Talking on a cell phone while driving and especially texting while driving can have tragic results.

Please pay attention July Fourth and throughout the summer for large crowds along the waterfront areas city parks, during festivals, music on the Pier and on weekends. Please slow down and watch for pedestrian traffic. The Fourth of July and entire summer can be a very safe and happy time for everyone if we all are responsible and courteous and have respect for others by following the rules.

We will have extra patrols in service for the holiday and during festivals and events. Please call 911 for emergencies or our Communications Desk at 366-2266 for any needs or assistance.

We wish all our area residents and visitors a happy and safe summer season.

David Ortolano is chief of the Dunkirk Police Department.