13 fireworks tips for a safe Independence Day

detail-of-american-flag-11279635008nzaNIndependence Day celebrations are built on traditions involving family, friends, parties — and fireworks. The College Station and Bryan Fire Departments encourage you to observe fireworks safety in Fourth of July activities.

Typically, more fires are reported on Independence Day than any other day, and fireworks account for more than half of those blazes. In 2011, an estimated 17,800 reported fires were started by fireworks, resulting in scores of injuries and millions of dollars in property damage.

From 2007-2011, 91 percent of the  fires associated with fireworks occurred outside structures or vehicles. The largest number involved grass fires, brush fires, dumpster fires, and other trash, rubbish or waste fires.

Fireworks injuries

In 2011, 9,600 fireworks-related injuries were treated in hospital emergency rooms, with one quarter of the victims under the age of 15. The highest rates of injuries per million population generally occur to children between 5-19 years old and adults from 25-44. Males accounted for 68 percent of the injuries.

Three of five fireworks injuries in 2011 were to extremities such as hands or fingers, legs, arms, shoulders or wrists. Most of the rest were to the head, especially the eyes. About 89 percent of emergency room fireworks injuries involved legal fireworks, with sparklers, fountains and other novelties accounting for one third of the injuries.

“Fireworks are dangerous and unpredictable, especially in the hands of amateurs,” said Judy Comoletti, the National Fire Protection Association‘s division manager of public edutcation. “The few seconds of pleasure those fireworks may bring are not worth the risk of injury, permanent scarring, or even death.”

“Safe and sane fireworks don’t exist,” said Dr. John Hall, NFPA’s division manager of fire analysis and research. “When things go wrong with fireworks, they go very wrong, very fast, far faster than any fire protection provisions can reliably respond.”

Authorities aren’t trying to take the fun out of Independence Day celebrations, but parents must be cautious and ensure that children are properly supervised around legal fireworks.

Local regulations

Possession or discharge of fireworks within the College Station or Bryan city limits, or within 5,000 feet of the city limits, is a misdemeanor punishable by fines up to $2,500. The fireworks stands are located outside the enforcement zone, so any use of fireworks should take place farther out. It’s also a good idea to get the landowner’s permission before you start celebrating.

Because fireworks can be dangerous and deadly, the best and safest way to include fireworks in your Fourth of July celebration is to watch a professional fireworks display. But if you are determined to use fireworks yourself, follow these 13 safety tips:

  1. Always read and follow label directions.
  2. Always have an adult present.
  3. Only buy from reliable fireworks sellers.
  4. Only ignite fireworks outdoors.
  5. Be sure to have water handy.
  6. Never experiment or attempt to make your own fireworks.
  7. Light only one at a time.
  8. Never re-ignite malfunctioning fireworks.
  9. Never give fireworks to small children.
  10. Store fireworks in a cool, dry place.
  11. Dispose of fireworks properly.
  12. Never throw fireworks at another person.
  13. Never carry fireworks in your pocket.

For more information, contact CSFD Public Education Officer Christina Seidel at 979.764.3712 or cseidel@cstx.gov.

Have a safe and enjoyable Independence Day!

Bart Humphreys

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