State Fire Marshal urges caution for those who use consumer fireworks for July 4th celebrations
As vaccination rates climb, COVID-19 cases drop and more Americans plan July 4th celebrations, the Division of Fire Safety is reminding Missourians to put fireworks safety first this Independence Day. Public fireworks displays not only offer the best sights, they are the safest, and Missourians will have more options than last year, when many displays were canceled because of the pandemic.
“Missourians will have more choices for public fireworks displays this year, and we encourage folks to take advantage of shows put on by professionals at organized events,” State Fire Marshal Tim Bean said. “But we also expect many families and friends to gather to celebrate this year. For those that choose to use consumer fireworks, we urge everyone to take the proper precautions and review safety tips. Safety begins with keeping fireworks away from children and using fireworks only in jurisdictions where they are legal.”
Across the nation, July 4th is not only the busiest day of the year for fireworks, it’s the busiest day of the year for fires. About 40 percent of Independence Day structure fires are the result of fireworks, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Across the U.S. in 2018, fireworks started an estimated 19,500 fires, including 1,900 structure fires, 500 vehicle fires and 17,100 outside and other types of fires. These fires caused five deaths and $105 million in direct property damage, according to NFPA. About 250 people go to emergency rooms each day with fireworks-related injuries in the 30 days around July 4th.
Missourians who choose to use consumer fireworks should follow these safety tips:
· Confirm fireworks are legal where you live; purchase fireworks only from licensed retailers.
· Only use fireworks in a large open space that has been cleared of flammable materials.
· Always keep young children away from fireworks; if teens are permitted to handle fireworks, they should be closely supervised by an adult; always wear eye protection.
· Make sure to have a garden hose or a bucket of water nearby in case of a fire.
· Only light fireworks one at a time; never try to re-light fireworks that have malfunctioned
· Dispose of fireworks by soaking them in water and leaving them in a trash can.
· Never shoot fireworks off from a glass jar or container.
· Never use fireworks while consuming alcohol.
· Never store fireworks from season to season.
Sparklers are a good example of how people underestimate the danger of fireworks. Sparklers burn at about 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt some metals. They can quickly ignite clothing and leave young children with severe burns. According to the NFPA, sparklers account for more than 25 percent of emergency room visits for fireworks injuries.
Fireworks sales at licensed seasonal retailers are legal in Missouri from June 20 to July 10. Through June 15, the Division of Fire Safety had issued 1,024 permits to seasonal retailers. DFS conducts safety inspections at fireworks retailers, including checking to make sure they sell only legally-permitted consumer fireworks, that they have at least two exits, are equipped with fire extinguishers, and that fireworks tents have been treated with fire retardant chemicals.
For questions or concerns about firework safety, firework rules, or firework dealers can contact the Division of Fire Safety at (573) 751-2930. More fireworks safety tips are available at https://dfs.dps.mo.gov/safetytips/fireworks-safety.php.