Think before using fireworks at home
With a number of local municipal fireworks shows canceled, sales of fireworks for home use have, for lack of a better word, skyrocketed.
Some retailers report 200% increases from the same time last year, according to the American Pyrotechnics Association.
Michiganders who plan to celebrate Independence Day by setting off fireworks need to be aware of the dangers and risks involved — especially when dealing with powerful, consumer-grade devices such as firecrackers, bottle rockets and Roman candles — in order to avoid tragedy.
In Michigan, consumer fireworks must meet Consumer Product Safety Commission standards. Licensed facilities will only sell fireworks to people 18 years of age or older. Low-impact fireworks — ground-based items such as sparklers, toy snakes, snaps, and poppers — are also legal for sale and use.
State law requires that consumer-grade fireworks only be ignited from personal property. It is illegal to ignite fireworks on public property — including streets and sidewalks — school property, church property, or another person’s property without their express permission. State law makes it illegal to discharge fireworks when intoxicated or under the influence of drugs.
When fire-related incidents involve consumer, low impact or illegal fireworks resulting in property damage, injury or death of another person, individuals are subject to a misdemeanor or felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than five years and fines of up to $10,000 or both.
BFS inspectors will cite sellers who are non-compliant with the Fireworks Safety Act to ensure that fireworks retailers operate their businesses safely to protect the public. Consumers should always buy from state-certified fireworks retailers — whether in a permanent building or a tent — and can verify a license using the directions provided here. Safety tips to protect lives and property include:
— 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;
— Ensure people and pets are out of range before lighting fireworks;
— Light fireworks outdoors on a driveway or other paved surface at least 25 feet away from houses and 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 in a trash can.
— Buy fireworks packaged in brown paper or use unlabeled fireworks — they are for professional use only;
— Experiment with or make your own fireworks;
— 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.
Sparklers should not be considered harmless for kids. More than 50 percent of sparkler-related injuries happen to kids younger than age 14 across the country. Sparklers can reach 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and have the potential to cause significant burn injuries and 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.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 12 people died and more than 10,000 were injured badly enough to require medical treatment after fireworks-related incidents in 2019.
For a list of legal consumer fireworks, legal low-impact fireworks and novelties, go online to https://www.michigan.gov/documents/lara/fireworks_381040_7.pdf.
Finally, consider your neighbors. Veterans, young children and pets all can have difficulty dealing with the stress from fireworks noise. In this region, Norway, Iron Mountain and Niagara, Wis., all still plan to have municipal fireworks shows for the Fourth. Perhaps that will be enough to forego trying backyard pyrotechnics.