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Jul 2, 2015

Fireworks Safety During a Drought

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, emergency rooms around the country see about 200 people every day in the month leading up to Independence Day for injuries stemming from fireworks. Young people by-far account for most ER visits, and while illegal fireworks cause the most serious injuries, the commission found that the biggest culprit is the common sparkler. In addition to personal injuries, firework accidents account for millions of dollars in property damages every year and have even been responsible for deadly wildfires in many states. Fortunately, a few precautionary measures will keep you and everyone around you safe this summer.

Know Your Local Fireworks Laws

Every state has different laws regarding fireworks, which often reflect the degree of danger certain fireworks pose in the region's climate. California summers have the perfect conditions for wildfires, so the state has banned the sale, transport and use of roman candles, bottle rockets, firecrackers and all of other fireworks that "explode, go into the air, or move on the ground in an uncontrollable manner."

States may have other laws regulating when fireworks may be purchased and how old a customer must be to buy them. Local governments can also impose their own fireworks ordinances on top of state regulations. While it may be tempting to drive across state lines to buy bottle rockets, the consequences of violating the law can be stiff; in California, simply possessing illegal fireworks can carry a fine of $50,000 and a one year jail sentence.

Many manufacturers have adopted the "Safe and Sane" label, which is a voluntary sticker indicating that their products do not explode or fly into the air. These products include sparklers, fountains, snakes, ground spinners and snappers; however, just because a product carries the "Safe and Sane" label does not mean they are legal for sale in every state. These devices are generally safer, but check your local laws before buying.

Fireworks Safety Tips:

  • Always have a water bucket or hose nearby
  • Read directions completely before lighting up
  • Keep fireworks away from dry grass, grills, propane tanks and other flammables. Pavements are the best place to ignite fireworks
  • Never let children play with fireworks unattended
  • Never use fireworks or sparklers indoors
  • Light only one firework at a time
  • Step back several feet after lighting a fuse
  • Never throw fireworks or point them at anyone
  • Do not try to re-light fireworks
  • Avoid wearing loose clothing that can easily catch flame
  • Do not place or carry fireworks in your pockets
  • Never place your hand or any other body parts over fireworks while lighting them

If someone gets burned, apply cold water to the afflicted area and seek medical treatment. If you live in an area that is prone to wildfires, you should develop and practice a family wildfire safety plan. . Better yet, leave fireworks to the experts and find a professional fireworks display to watch.  If you desire to shoot off your own fireworks stay smart and do your part to make sure everyone has a safe and fun Fourth of July.