Firework safety

Rolla Daily News staff

No one wants to put a damper on enthusiastic celebrations of Independence Day but before setting off those fountains and missiles, a little bit of planning and common sense can prevent a lot of problems. 

By this time next week, the celebration will be all but over but from now throughout the weekend, area fire districts and departments are gearing up for a busy few days. 

Mid-County Fire Protection District Chief Scott Frandsen says that this year may be tough on fire departments, as they are already experiencing an increase in calls for service. The upcoming holiday is always busy and expected be more so this year as people hold larger celebrations than last year. 

In order to best prepare, fire officials offer a few simple recommendations for any resident hoping to light a few firecrackers of their own this weekend. First and foremost, know your local laws. 

Although the area has experienced heavy rain over the last several days, there is always the danger of setting a field, brush pile or worse, a structure on fire. 

Fire officials say the easiest way to make sure fireworks are being lit safely is to keep a single adult in charge of lighting and make sure all participants are a safe distance away.

Read manufacturing instructions on the product and have a bucket of water ready in case of an emergency. If a firework misfires, leave it be. Do not attempt to relight the fuse.

Remember, just like with driving and boating, alcohol and fireworks are not a good combination. A mishap can lead to serious injuries and a trip to the hospital. 

Quality control on many fireworks are not up to the standards that  many fire officials would like to see. Be careful using any brand. Finally, remember that not only your pets, but also surrounding neighbor pets have a hard time with fireworks explosions. Be mindful of this and move fireworks away from heavily residential areas.

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.

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.

The Missouri State Fire Marshal’s office recommends following these recommendations: 

·         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.