Use fireworks with caution, if at all, this July 4 holiday
It’s roughly a week before Fourth of July, which means a number of people will be shopping for fireworks for the holiday, if not already lighting them up this weekend.
That can represent a colorful home show of lights and sound — or a potential danger to the person firing off those pyrotechnics or, worse, to those watching nearby, especially children.
Even devices deemed suitable for public purchase carry some risk, be they a small sparkler or bottle rocket, Roman candle or other type of commercial firework.
“The safest way to enjoy fireworks is professional displays,” was Michigan State Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer’s advice. “If you do plan to shoot your own fireworks, remember these are explosives and that if used incorrectly, can cause irreparable injury and harm.”
According to the latest national data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 11,100 fireworks-related injuries were reported in the U.S. in 2016, with four deaths. At least that was down from 2015, considered the worst year for fireworks injuries this century: 11,900 emergency room visits and 11 deaths.
Firework mishaps also account for about 20,000 fires each year; most notably, house fires.
In Michigan, consumer fireworks became legal Jan. 1, 2012, and must meet CPSC standards. They will only be sold to people age 18 or older. Low-impact fireworks — ground-based items such as sparklers, toy snakes, snaps, and poppers — are legal for sale and use.
State law requires that consumer-grade fireworks be ignited only from personal property. It is illegal to ignite fireworks on public property — including streets and sidewalks — or school property, church property or another person’s property without their permission.
State law makes it illegal to discharge fireworks when intoxicated or under the influence of drugs.
Some tips for safer use of fireworks:
— Purchase fireworks from an authorized retailer and follow the manufacturer’s directions;
— Have an adult supervise fireworks activities, including sparklers;
— Light fireworks one at a time, then immediately back away to a safe distance;
— Keep people and pets out of range before lighting fireworks;
— Light fireworks outdoors on a driveway or other paved surface at least 25 feet away from houses and highly flammable materials such as dry grass or mulch;
— Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap;
— Douse spent fireworks in a bucket of water before discarding them.
— Allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks;
— Place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse;
— Try to re-light “duds” or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully. Instead, wait 15 to 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water;
— Point or throw fireworks at other people;
— Carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers;
— Buy fireworks packaged in brown paper or use unlabeled fireworks, they are for professional use;
— Experiment with or make your own fireworks.
Sehlmeyer also warned, “Never consider sparklers as harmless for the kids.”
More than 50 percent of sparkler-related injuries in the U.S. happen to children younger than 14. Sparklers can reach 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit and have the potential to cause significant burn injuries. Sparklers can quickly ignite clothing and can cause grass fires if thrown on the ground. Always keep a bucket of water close by to dispose of used sparklers promptly.
A graphic of legal consumer fireworks, legal low impact fireworks, and novelties can be viewed at http://www.michigan.gov/documents/lara/fireworks_381040_7.pdf. To learn more about fireworks safety, the Michigan Fireworks Safety Act, or obtain a list of state-certified fireworks retailers, go to the Bureau of Fire Services website at www.michigan.gov/bfs.