Firework Safety

By: Aaron Baskerville
By: Aaron Baskerville

The Fourth of July is right around the corner and that means fireworks season is in high gear. During this time of the year, fire officials say protecting children from fireworks is a top priority.

In Michigan, if it flies, spins, makes a loud bang, or leaves the ground, it's illegal. The state only allows toy trick noisemakers, toy smoke devices, sparklers, certain cone and cylinder fountains that shoot showers of sparks and toy snakes.

Barry Gaukel, assistant fire marshal for Lansing Fire Department, says a change in their ordinance has cut down the sale of illegal fireworks. Retailers are now being held more accountable.

Gaukel says the safest way to see fireworks is to go to a supervised public display.

Tips include:

  • Always have adult supervision
  • Buy from reliable sources
  • Use outdoors only
  • Never throw or point fireworks at other people

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Firework Safety Tips

  • Follow state guidelines and code.

  • Don’t buy fireworks if they are not marked as meeting BS 7114. They could be illegal imports.

  • Don’t attempt to use professional high-power fireworks, such as those used in organized displays. To the untrained, they are as lethal as hand grenades.

  • Keep fireworks in a closed box, take them out one at a time and put the top back on straight away.

  • Follow the instructions on each firework carefully - read them by torchlight and never by naked flame.

  • Light the end of the firework’s fuse at arm’s length, preferably with a safety firework lighter or fuse wick.

  • Never throw fireworks.

  • Don’t let off fireworks in a street or public place - It’s not only dangerous, it’s also an offense

  • Stand well back and never return to a firework once lit - it may go off in your face.

  • Never put fireworks in your pocket.

  • Keep pets indoors.

  • Never fool with fireworks!

Mishap Statistics

  • Sparklers are the second highest cause of fireworks injuries requiring trips to the emergency room. Sparklers can heat up to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit, hot enough to melt gold.

  • From 1980-1994, fireworks accounted for 29 fires, 65 explosions and 114 deaths. The victims of these accidents ranged in ages from four months to 88-years-old.

  • Misuse caused 60 percent of injuries.

  • Data from the United States Eye Injury Registry shows that bystanders are more often injured by fireworks than operators themselves.

  • Forty-four percent of the injured are children ages 19-years-old and under.

  • On the 4th of July in a typical year, fireworks cause more fires in the U.S. than all other causes combined. But because most people encounter the risk of fireworks only once a year, many Americans do not realize how great that risk is.

Fireworks by Class

  • C Class - Consumer fireworks are determined by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and regulated in Code of Federal Regulations, Title 16, Parts 1500-1507 and they are controlled on a state-by-state basis by the State Fire Marshal's Offices.

  • D Class - Display fireworks are regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms in Code of Federal Regulations, Title 27 and their use is regulated by NFPA 1123, Code for the Display of Fireworks.

Sources: http://www.hertsdirect.org, http://www.preventblindness.org, and
http://www.nfpa.org, contributed to this report.


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