Use caution when handling fireworks over July 4 holiday

Monday, July 2, 2018
Customers look through the assortment of fireworks and novelty items for sale at May Brothers Fireworks in Miner. Many people used the weekend to gear up for Independence Day celebrations.
Liza King/Standard Democrat

Across the U.S., an average of 250 people a day go to emergency rooms with fire-works related injuries in the month around July 4, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

“Public fireworks shows are the safest way to enjoy fireworks and they provide the most dramatic sights,” State Fire Marshal Tim Bean said. “If you are thinking about using consumer fireworks, it is essential that you consider how to eliminate the many risks they present – from dangerous burns and other injuries to house fires. Also, find out whether fireworks are even legal to use where you live.”

Fire Marshal Bean said across the nation July 4 is the busiest day of the year for fires and that almost one-half of fires that day are caused by fireworks.

Sparklers – which burn at over 1,200 degrees and are often handled by children – are one of the leading causes of fireworks injuries and are strong reminder of the dangers consumer fireworks can pose.

Missourians who choose to use consumer fireworks should follow these safety tips:

—  Confirm fireworks are legal where you live; purchase fireworks only from a properly licensed retailer.

— Only use fireworks in a large open space that has been cleared of flammable materials.

— Always keep young children away from fireworks; if teens are permitted to handle fireworks, they should be closely supervised by an adult; always wear eye protection.

— Make sure to have a garden hose or a bucket of water nearby in case of a fire.

—  Only light fireworks one at a time; never try to re-light fireworks that have malfunctioned

— Dispose of fireworks by soaking them in water and leaving them in a trash can.

— Never shoot fireworks off from a glass jar or container.

—  Never use fireworks while consuming alcohol.

— Never store fireworks from season to season.

According to the National Fire Protection Association:

— Fireworks start an average of 18,500 fires per year, including 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires, and 16,900 outside and other fires. These fires caused an average of $43 million in direct property damage.

— In 2015, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 11,900 people for fireworks related injuries; 51 percent of those injuries were to the extremities and 41 percent were to the head. Children younger than 15 years of age accounted for 26 percent of the estimated 2015 injuries. 

Fireworks sales at licensed seasonal retailers are legal in Missouri from June 20 to July 10. Through June 25, the Division of Fire Safety has issued 1,250 permits to seasonal retailers.

DFS conducts safety inspections at fireworks retailers, including checking to make sure they sell only legally-permitted consumer fireworks, that they have at least two exits, are equipped with fire extinguishers, and that fireworks tents have been treated with fire retardant chemicals.

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