The first holiday of the summer is upon us and as the 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. 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. We will have extra patrols in service for weekends and holidays.
Many activities are planned during the day on the Fourth, such as music and food vendors in Memorial Park. There will be a fireworks display from the city pier at dusk on July 4 and we invite everyone to come to the waterfront and enjoy the show. The city pier will be closed at 5 p.m.
If possible please park in the city parking lots near Second Street and Washington Avenue and Third Street and Central Avenue and walk to the waterfront area. Due to the heavy amount of traffic this helps alleviate traffic congestion.
When leaving the area after the fireworks please use Central Avenue, Main Street and Brigham 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 Lake Shore Drive as it will have heavy traffic volume during the evening. In addition, this year, South Roberts Road will be unavailable for use as a direct exit route due to ongoing construction.
Wreck and Roll events are scheduled for Saturday as well.
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. 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 eye on them during July 4 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.
Please pay attention throughout the summer for large crowds along the waterfront areas and around the city during festivals 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 wish all our area residents and visitors a happy and safe summer season.
David Ortolano is chief of the Dunkirk Police Department.