Independence Day would not be the same without the excitement and entertainment provided by fireworks. However, if necessary precautions are not observed, fireworks can result in serious injuries such as blindness, third degree burns, and permanent scarring.
"Carelessness while using fireworks can not only cause serious injury to individuals but may cause life-threatening residential and motor vehicle fires," said State Fire Marshal Randy Cole.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), four persons died and an estimated 10,800 were treated in emergency departments for fireworks-related injuries in 2005 nationwide. The CDC reports that about 45 percent of persons injured from fireworks were children ages 14 years and younger with children ages 10 to 14 years having the highest injury rate.
Cole said that everyone should follow some common sense safety practices to minimize the chances for injury or fire. Among these are:
- Always use fireworks under adult supervision
- Read and follow instructions
- Always keep water and sand nearby
- NEVER light indoors use only OUTDOORS
- Never try to make your own fireworks
- Never relight fireworks that appear to have malfunctioned
- Only light one at a time
- Never allow small children to go near fireworks
- Store in a cool dry place
- Never lean over the top of fireworks to light them
- Tie hair back, wear safety goggles and no loose fitting clothing while using fireworks
- Sparklers should be immersed in sand once they appear out – they are still very hot and can burn
Caution should be used when purchasing fireworks and only purchased from properly licensed seasonal retailers. The Missouri Division of Fire Safety has licensed over 1,400 seasonal retailers this year and a state permit should be displayed in legally licensed locations. Legal consumer fireworks are regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and packaged in bright colors with safety warnings on the packaging.
"Never buy fireworks from an individual’s house or from someone on the street. Such fireworks are likely to be illegal explosives that can cause serious injury and death," Cole said.
Illegal explosives are often handmade in basements or illicit factories. They go by names such as M80, Quarter Stick, or Cherry Bomb. Cole instructs those approached to purchase illegal explosives to politely decline and then call a local law enforcement agency.