• R.F Wittmeyer
  • June 25, 2017

In a few weeks, all over the Chicago suburbs, families and friends gather together to celebrate Independence Day. The Fourth of July celebration and festivities are always fun filled. We enjoy the colorful parades, hot barbecues, and spectacular fireworks shows. Of course, some risks exist with parades and barbecues. But fireworks safety needs a special focus.

According to the National Fire Protection Agency, 18,500 fireworks-related fires are reported each year, including 1,300 building fires, 300 automobile fires, and 16,900 outside and other fires. On average each year, fireworks are responsible for three deaths, 40 injuries, and $43 million in property damage. The NFPA reports that in 2015, 11,900 people were treated in the United States’s hospitals for fireworks-related injuries. Of those treated, 51% were injuries to limbs while 41% were injuries to the head.

The NFPA advises against buying and using consumer grade fireworks. Due to the risks associated with pyrotechnics as well as the quality of the fireworks, leave it to the professionals. Recently, a 15-year-old in Davenport, Iowa sustained injuries to his hand from consumer grade fireworks. The teenager headed to Peoria, Illinois for surgery on the hand. However, doctors had to amputate the hand.

Additionally, even the “safe” fireworks cause injuries. Many Americans buy sparklers and firecrackers. And while families, especially kids, love these products, many suffer burns. Sparklers burn hot enough to sustain third-degree burns. The NFPA reports that sparklers make up 25% of firework injuries treated in emergency rooms.

Fireworks Safety Tips

With the approaching Fourth of July holiday, remember these fireworks safety tips.

Follow local firework laws and ordinances

While a rural town may have more lax fireworks safety ordinances, not all neighborhoods follow those same casual rules. Check your local community rules and regulations regarding the use of fireworks before purchasing and using fireworks. In Illinois, the Illinois’ Pyrotechnic Use Act bans the sale, possession, and use of those “consumer fireworks.” This includes bottle rockets, roman candles, and firecrackers.

Properly dispose of fireworks after use

If you seek to break Illinois law, please properly dispose of fireworks. Get the objects wet and place them in a metal trash can away from any buildings. Even if the firework does not launch, “duds” can still re-light. Be sure to never relight a “dud” firework. According to Davenport Fire Chief Lynn Washburn, “you just let it be and wait fifteen to twenty minutes and then put it in a bucket of water.”

Do not use consumer grade or homemade fireworks…but if you do, be smart.

According to NFPA’s Dan Doofus, do not use consumer fireworks because “they are too dangerous” and responsible most firework-related injuries. Additionally, avoid making your own homemade fireworks. Again, if you seek to break Illinois law, when using fireworks in a home or residential setting, read all of the directions on the packaging. Make sure the product is safe for use. However, as always, use caution and wear safety glasses to protect your eyes from any potential injuries.

Keep a close eye on children at firework events

According to the NFPA, most injuries affect children and teenagers. Be sure to monitor children in situations where fireworks are present. And remember to never give children fireworks!

Keep your pets safe from fireworks as well

Pets easily startled by the loud noises associated with fireworks. For this reason, do not bring your pets should to fireworks shows. Regardless of the size of the show, your pet could run away if it gets startled. Additionally, if you seek to break Illinois law and use fireworks at home, be sure to keep your pet inside in an interior room to keep the animal from hearing the loud, bombastic noises. In the event an animal does run away during a firework display after being startled, always make sure your pet has updated identification tags so others can return your pet to you.

Leave it to the firework experts, and go to a professional firework show

Most importantly, having your own firework display in Illinois is illegal.

In Arlington Heights, if you get caught with fireworks, in addition to potential injury, you will pay a fine. Additionally, the state can charge you with a misdemeanor and arrest you.

To ensure your safety and to stay within the boundaries of the law, leave the firework shows to the professionals. Removing the hazardous element to your Fourth of July celebration allows you and your family to enjoy the holiday with any added risks.

Happy Fourth of July from all of us at R.F. Wittmeyer!

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