As Missouri families prepare to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday, State Fire Marshal Randy Cole is reminding Missourians that public fireworks displays put on by trained professionals are the safest way to enjoy fireworks.
"Fireworks are unpredictable and potentially dangerous for users, bystanders and any surrounding structures when not used properly," Cole said.
"Each year across the U.S., consumer fireworks cause property damage, injuries and even death. Public fireworks displays are a fun, safe way for Missouri families to enjoy the excitement of fireworks without risking fires or injuries," he said.
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 also reports that across the U.S. in 2010, fireworks caused an estimated 15,500 reported fires, including 1,100 total structure fires, 300 vehicle fires and 14,100 outside and other fires.
These fires resulted in an estimated eight deaths, 60 injuries and $36 million in direct property damage.
Fireworks sales at licensed seasonal retailers are legal in Missouri from June 20 to July 10.
This year, the Office of the State Fire Marshal has licensed more than 1,100 seasonal retailers. State permits should be displayed at all seasonal retail locations.
Missourians also should be aware of any local ordinances related to fireworks, and should these follow basic safety practices:
• Purchase fireworks only from a properly licensed retailer.
• Always wear eye protection and 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.
• Keep young children away from 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 an accident.
• Dispose of fireworks by soaking them in water and leaving them in a trash can.
• Never light fireworks indoors.
•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 Office of the State Fire Marshal at 573-751-2930.