Preventing firework-related injuries

With the Fourth of July celebrations kicking off this weekend, people must consider taking proper safety measures to ensure injury-free festivities.

Fireworks and Independence Day celebrations go hand in hand; however, on average, 180 people go to the emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries in the month around the July 4th holiday, according to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Fort Payne Fire Marshal Stacy Smith said they always encourage people to attend professional fireworks shows, such as the ones the various municipalities have.

“There is always a danger of fireworks that individuals can purchase and use at home,” he said.

For those considering the use of fireworks this upcoming holiday season, remember to take proper safety measures. Fireworks can be dangerous and cause severe burn and eye injuries.

Smith said one of the main things is you always need to be aware and careful with children around fireworks and limit access.

“If you are going to use fireworks on private property, it needs to be by an adult with proper lighting devices,” he said.

For those taking part in the use of fireworks, Smith said they need to be in an open area where any falling embers will not fall on someone else’s property or in a wooded area.

He recommends having a water source around or an extinguishing agent in the event something catches on fire.

“If you shoot fireworks and the embers fall on someone else’s property that could potentially hold you liable for any damages,” said Smith.

Smith said three major fireworks companies are selling in Fort Payne. He also said the annual fireworks for the city is on July 2.

Currently, the state is under a burn ban placed by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management that runs through November 1.

Smith said the ban is for air quality management and has been in place around this time for several years.

He said although this spring and early summer the county has seen a lot of rain, always be aware come time for fireworks, it does not take long with the heat at this time of year to dry out grass and the top layers of undergrowth.

The 2018 report by the U.S. CPSC found of the 5,600 estimated fireworks-related injuries sustained, 64 percent were to males and 36 percent were to females. Children younger than 15 years of age accounted for 36 percent of the estimated injuries. Children 10 to 14 years of age had the highest estimated rate of emergency department-treated, fireworks-related injuries.

Additionally, fireworks start an average of 18,500 fires each year, including 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires and nearly 17,000 other fires as reported by the National Safety Council organization.

The Alabama Fire Marshal’s Office and the Consumer Products Safety Commission released the following data of injuries by fireworks type:

• Multiple tubes - 2%

• Fountains - 2%

• Bottle rockets - 3%

• Roman candles - 4%

• Novelties - 8%

• Firecrackers - 10%

• Reloadable shells - 12%

• Sparklers - 14%

• Unspecified - 39%

If your planning on using fireworks, Smith suggests considering these safety tips:

• Always check and make sure that it is legal to light fireworks in your community.

• When determining the location to use fireworks, avoid structures and vehicles and be mindful of drought conditions or dry vegetation.

• When choosing an area to light fireworks, be aware of the areas where hot embers may fall.

• Never have fireworks around flammable liquids.

• Children should not be allowed to handle fireworks and should never be unattended around them.

• Make sure bystanders are nowhere near the area where you will be lighting fireworks.

• Always have a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby.

• Light fireworks one at a time and move away quickly.

• Never try to re-light a firework that has failed.

• Any fireworks that have been lit and fail should be doused with water

Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.

For additional resources visit www.cpsc.gov and www.nsc.org.

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