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JEFFERSON CITY – Independence Day is the biggest day of the year for fireworks across the U.S. – and the day for the most fires and injuries caused by fireworks. As Missourians prepare to celebrate the July 4th holiday weekend, the Division of Fire Safety reminds Missourians that public firework displays put on by trained professionals are the safest way to enjoy fireworks.
Missouri families should realize that about 40 percent of the U.S. fireworks injuries that send people to hospital emergency rooms each year affect children under age 15. The safest and most fun way to enjoy fireworks as a family is at one of Missouri’s many public displays, which offer far better sights and excitement than consumer fireworks.
Even small fireworks like sparklers are unpredictable and improper use can lead to injuries. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), far more fires are reported in the U.S. on a typical Independence Day than on any other day of the year, and fireworks account for more than half of those fires. The NFPA reports that across the U.S. in 2011, fireworks caused an estimated 17,800 reported fires, including 1,200 total structure fires, 400 vehicle fires, and 16,300 outside and other fires.
Fireworks sales at licensed seasonal retailers are legal in Missouri from June 20 to July 10. This year, the Division of Fire Safety has licensed more than 1,100 seasonal retailers. State permits should be displayed at all seasonal retail locations. Missourians who choose to use consumer should be aware of any local ordinances related to fireworks, and should follow basic safety practices:
· Purchase fireworks only from a properly licensed retailer.
· Always keep young children away from fireworks. If teens are permitted to handle fireworks they should be closely supervised by an adult.
· Only use fireworks in a large open space that has been cleared of flammable materials. Never light fireworks indoors.
· Always wear eye protection; use earplugs if you have sensitive ears.
· Tie back long hair and don’t wear loose fitting clothes.
· Only light one firework at a time; never try to re-light fireworks that have malfunctioned.
· Never have any part of your body over fireworks.
· Never throw or point fireworks at other people.
· Never carry fireworks in your pocket.
· Make sure to have water nearby in case of a fire or accident.
· Dispose of fireworks by soaking them in water and leaving them in a trash can.
· Don’t use fireworks while consuming alcohol. Use a “designated shooter.”
· Store fireworks in a cool, dry place. Don’t save fireworks from season to season.
Anyone with concerns about a fireworks dealer or the types of fireworks being sold by a dealer should call the Division of Fire Safety at (573) 751-2930.