Despite a Couple of Small Fires, the Fireworks on the Mall Went Off “Without a Hitch”

The National Park Service reflects on the Fourth of July celebrations. Plus: tips to avoid heat stroke this weekend.

By: Carol Ross Joynt

The National Park Service says that all things considered, the July Fourth fireworks on the Mall “went off without a hitch.” That said, the heatwave is expected to intensify through the weekend, compounding the misery for the thousands of area residents still without power but also making it potentially dangerous for individuals who go outside without taking the recommended precautions. As of this morning the number of those without power was down from more than 1.2 million to under 100,000.

NPS spokesman Bill Line, speaking to us from his Haines Point office (which is still without power), said while a small number of the 2,850 fireworks shells misfired, “that’s not uncommon. Every year, anywhere, some fireworks misfire.” The DC Fire Department had to put out a couple of small brush fires, he said, “but they were extinguished within a minute” and no one was in danger.

Due to the extreme heat, there were cases of people getting overheated; they visited one of the many first-aid tents on the Mall, but no one was transported to a hospital. 

Extreme heat will be a factor again this weekend as the Smithsonian wraps up the Folklife Festival on the Mall. Currently the forecast calls for a temperature of 105 degrees in DC on Saturday. Line says all the usual precautions still hold. “We have watering stations and sprinkling stations, but ultimately people are responsible for themselves, and have to be. They have to monitor how they feel.”

The classic signs of heat stroke, according to the DC Government and the Homeland Security And Emergency Management Agency, are as follows:

• Hot, dry skin (no sweating)

• Hallucinations

• Chills

• Throbbing headache

• High body temperature

• Confusion or dizziness

• Slurred speech

Here are the precautions they recommend:

• Stay indoors as much as possible.

• Turn on the air conditioner or fan.

• DO NOT leave children or pets in vehicles.

• Pay special attention to young children, the elderly, and the mentally ill.

• Drink plenty of water.

• Wear light-colored, lightweight, loose-fitting clothes.

• Apply sunscreen at least 20 minutes before going outside (SPF 15 to 30 is best).

• Limit exposure to the sun (rays are most powerful between 10 AM and 3 PM).

• Watch for heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.

• If you do not have access to a cool-temperature location, visit one of the District’s cooled indoor facilities (see a full list online).