Keep Firework Safety in Mind


June 29, 2018 12:29 PM

Crowd watching fireworks

The 4th of July is right around the corner, and with that comes fireworks. Each year, thousands gather to celebrate America’s independence with a brilliant display of lights through professional shows and individual use. Fireworks can be fun and exciting, but they are also very dangerous, making firework safety a top priority. According to the National Fire Protection Association, fireworks cause approximately 18,500 reported fires per year, with 1 in 4 of those occurring on the 4th of July. These fires, and misuse of fireworks, can cause serious bodily harm, such as burns to the hand, face, and head. On top of that, fires due to fireworks cause approximately $20 million in property loss each year. If you plan on setting off your own fireworks remember to always use caution and follow all laws and regulations to reduce your risk of harm.

STAY SAFE

What can you do to be safe when dealing with fireworks? There are a variety of precautions to take when dealing with fireworks, but first and foremost, make sure it is legal in your state or town to set them off and follow all laws associated with their use. Firework safety goes much further than legality; there are various precautions you need to take before, during, and after handling fireworks.

To start, find a clear area outdoors away from buildings or vehicles while maintaining a safe distance from surrounding trees. You don’t want to be too close to anything flammable in case a firework should misfire. Keep a bucket of water and/or hose nearby to try to minimize any damage if anything should go wrong.

When it comes time to handle the fireworks, read the cautionary labels and directions to reduce the chances of misuse. Adults should always manage the fireworks, or at the very least have adult supervision, and never handle them if you’ve been drinking. Set off fireworks one at a time and make sure to step back in case the firework should malfunction. If a firework turns out to be a “dud,” don’t re-light it with the hope that will set it off. Instead, wait 20 minutes and then soak it in water.

Firework safety doesn’t end once the last firework goes off, now it’s time to properly dispose of them. Gather all spent fireworks and soak them with water, preferably overnight, or at least until they are thoroughly cooled. Then wrap them in plastic so they don’t dry out and place in a trash can until you can bring them to your local solid waste facility. Make sure you check the area for any remaining debris and you’re good to go.

Of course one of the easiest ways to stay safe is to leave the fireworks to the professionals and enjoy a night out with your family at a public firework show this Fourth. Towns all around Maine put on shows every year, just grab a blanket, pack some snacks, and enjoy!

BE CAUTIOUS WITH SPARKLERS

Did you know that sparklers burn at approximately 1200°F with some even reaching 2000°F? Sparklers might not seem all that dangerous, but if not handled properly, they can cause serious injury. Misuse of sparklers can lead to third-degree burns, and sparklers cause approximately one-fourth of emergency room visits due to fireworks. This isn’t to scare you away from using sparklers, for when used properly, kids and adults alike can enjoy them. Never run with, throw, or conduct “duels” with sparklers as that increases the risk of a spark landing on you. Additionally, light the sparklers one at a time, to reduce the chances of the sparks scattering and hitting someone. Finally, when the sparkler fizzles out, make sure to drop it in water as it could still cause a small fire or burn someone if just thrown away.

MAINE LAW

Every state has different laws regarding the use and sale of fireworks, and in Maine, it can be a bit more confusing as the law differs from town to town. If your town has no ordinance prohibiting the use of fireworks, then you must follow these general guidelines. Fireworks are only allowed between 9am and 10pm, except on July 4th, December 31st, and the weekends before and after those dates when fireworks are allowed between 9am and 12:30am. They are only allowed on your property, or with consent of the property owner, and you must be over 21 to purchase, possess, and use fireworks.

The Fourth of July is great to spend time with friends and family, have a barbecue, and enjoy some fireworks. Just remember to keep firework safety in mind if you decide to set off your own and have fun!