Over the next few days, many Americans will begin celebrating Independence Day – and igniting fireworks will be a major part of that celebration. The Office of the State Fire Marshal reminds Kansans that when lighting fireworks, they are playing with a type of explosive and there is no such thing as totally safe fireworks.
“Fireworks are comprised of dangerous chemicals and combustibles that can destroy property and injure people,” says Doug Jorgensen, State Fire Marshal. “These deceptively simple objects explode, throw hot sparks through the air, and can often reach temperatures hotter than 1,200 degrees.”
During the week of the July 4th celebrations in 2012, there were 197 reported fireworks-related injuries in Kansas. Damage to personal and commercial property is another hazard of shooting fireworks. In 2011, there were 26 structure fires, 10 vehicle fires and 199 miscellaneous fires directly related to fireworks from around the state between May 1 and August 31. The total property loss from these fires was $408,125.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), far more U.S. fires are reported on or around Independence Day than on any other day of the year. In its 2012 Fireworks Report, the NFPA outlined specific statistics regarding how the use of consumer fireworks relates to fire danger including:
- In 2010, fireworks caused an estimated 15,500 reported fires, including 1,100 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires, and 14,100 outside and other fires.
- These fires resulted in an estimated eight reported deaths, 60 civilian injuries and $36 million in direct property damage.
The report demonstrates using consumer fireworks heightens the risk of injury and even death. The study showed:
- The risk of fireworks injury was highest for children ages 5-14 with more than twice the risk for the general population.
- Sparklers and novelties alone accounted for 38 percent of the 8,600 emergency room fireworks injuries in 2010.
The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend an outdoor public display conducted by specially trained pyrotechnic professionals.
For those who choose to shoot fireworks, the OSFM offers these suggestions for having fun with fireworks while also being safe:
- Always read and follow label instructions.
- Always purchase high quality fireworks from a reliable, legitimate source.
- Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Have a “designated shooter.”
- Never give fireworks to small children.
- Adults should always supervise use of fireworks by older children.
- Always wear eye protection when lighting fireworks.
- Never ignite fireworks indoors. Make sure your outdoor area is safe for firework use.
- Never point or throw fireworks at a person, building, or animal.
- Have a source of water handy, in case of fire.
- Never shoot fireworks in metal or glass containers.
- Light only one firework at a time.
- Never attempt to re-light malfunctioning fireworks.
- When lighting fireworks, never position any part of your body over them.
- Never carry fireworks in your pocket.
- Store fireworks in a cool, dry place.
- Never experiment with homemade fireworks. They are dangerous and illegal.
- Bottle rockets and other skyrockets that are mounted on a stick or wire are illegal.
- It is illegal to shoot fireworks on or under a vehicle, on any public roadway, within 50 feet of a firework stand or where fireworks are stored, and gas stations or any place liquid gas – including propane – is stored.
“While shooting fireworks can be a fun way to celebrate Independence Day, it’s not so fun if you, a family member or a friend are in the Emergency Room or if a fire truck has to rush to your house to put out a fire,” Jorgensen says. “Our office wishes everyone a very happy – and safe – 4th of July celebration.”