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Suffolk top cop: ‘Be safe’ while celebrating July Fourth

Suffolk County police demonstrate the dangers of fireworks,

Suffolk County police demonstrate the dangers of fireworks, as fireworks cause a small trailer to explode in a field at the fire academy in Yaphank on Tuesday, June 28, 2016. Credit: James Carbone

Suffolk County police do not want to be part of your July Fourth weekend celebration.

But they will be if they have to be — that is, if you use or sell illegal fireworks, drive drunk, or operate a boat under the influence, Commissioner Timothy Sini said Tuesday.

“It’s pretty simple,” Sini said. “We want people to enjoy the summer — the beach, our parks, the shows. But, be safe.”

Being safe, the commissioner said, doesn’t just mean obeying the law. It also means using your head — and, protecting yourself and others, especially children — when it comes to swimming and other water-related activities, including use of a pool or swimming in lakes, rivers, creeks or oceans.

Talking about summer safety, Sini said that in 2014 an estimated 10,500 people nationwide were treated at emergency rooms as a result of fireworks-related injuries. The peak time for those incidents was between June 20 and July 20, he said. About a third of those injuries were suffered by children under age 15.

A significant number of injuries — about 1,400 — were caused by the use of sparklers, he said.

“We understand the culture,” Sini said, noting that, like many Suffolk police officers, he grew up here.

“Fireworks are an important part of our culture, of the summer culture. But, leave it to the professionals. We don’t want to be part of your summer vacation.”

Just last week, the commissioner said, police arrested an Oakdale man, seizing $2,000 worth of illegal fireworks from his home. And, Sini said, drivers and boaters can count on enhanced holiday DWI and BWI enforcement patrols, as well as the presence of pop-up sobriety checkpoints, to ensure the safe and legal operation of vehicles and marine vessels.

“If you plan on drinking this holiday season, don’t drive. Don’t operate a boat,” he said. “It’s not worth putting yourself at risk. It’s not worth putting others at risk.”

In fact, police stress that if you plan on drinking, make other transportation plans. Sini emphasized the use of designated drivers, as well as the use of taxis and public transit.

“We’re hoping we don’t have to arrest you,” the commissioner said. “But, if you drink and drive you will be arrested.”

Being safe, Sini said, also pertains to public swimming and the use of backyard pools. He urged residents to make certain that they keep an eye on small children at all times; that residents use isolation fences and self-closing, self-latching gates, to block off pools when not in use. He also urged that beach-goers and park-goers using public swimming areas stay in areas overseen by lifeguards.

“Be really cautious, folks,” the commissioner said. “We’re very conscious of keeping residents and visitors safe . . . On our roads, on our waterways. At our beaches, bays and oceans.”

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