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Barry Brickey: Have a Safe 4th of July and Leave Fireworks to the Professionals

Barry Brickey • Jun 27, 2013 at 7:01 PM

Have a Safe 4th of July and Leave Fireworks to the Professionals:

Exploding brilliant colored fireworks, backyard barbecues, and roasting marshmallows are the highlights of many July 4th holiday celebrations. But on July 4th there are more reported fires than any other day of the year.

Burns are a common cause of injury during the summer months and especially in July. Fire and burns are the third leading cause of unintentional injury-related deaths among children ages fourteen and under.

Approximately 10,000 people suffer fireworks injuries every year, including over 4,000 children ages fourteen and under. Burns resulting from improper use of sparklers and illegal fireworks usually involve the hands, face, arms, and chest areas.

In the City of Kingsport: “it is unlawful for any person to manufacture, use, discharge, possess with intent to discharge, or offer for sale, expose for sale, sell at retail, or keep with intent to sell at retail fireworks in the city.. (Section 46-5 of the Code of Ordinances, City of Kingsport, Tennessee) Any person found guilty of violating this ordinance shall pay a civil penalty of up to fifty dollars ($50) for each offense. The only exception to this ordinance would be a public fireworks display authorized by a permit from the Fire Chief or the Fire Marshal. Some examples of these approved public displays are the fireworks shows at Hunter Wright Stadium following Kingsport Mets ballgames, the downtown fireworks show on Independence Day, or the Fun Fest fireworks show at J. Fred Johnson Stadium.

In Sullivan County: “Fireworks may only be detonated between the hours of 2 p.m. and 10 p.m., with the exception that fireworks may be detonated between the hours of 2 p.m. and midnight on the eve of Memorial Day, Memorial Day, July 3, Independence Day, eve of Veterans Day, Veterans Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Fireworks may not be detonated closer than 100 feet to any inhabited residential structure unless the occupant or owner of such residence gives permission. Fireworks may not be detonated within 600 feet of any church, hospital or public school. A penalty of $500 shall apply to anyone who violates the above.” Substitute Resolution No. 2010-07-67 Sullivan County Board of Commissioners September 20, 2010.

Keep your July holiday activities enjoyable, fun and safe by leaving the fireworks to the professionals.

Fireworks safety guideline if you live in an area where fireworks are legal to use:

~Check with your local police or fire department to determine what fireworks can be legally discharged in your area.

~Only adults should handle fireworks. Read and follow all instructions with fireworks. All fireworks must carry a warning label to discuss necessary safety precautions.

~Be sure spectators are out of range before lighting fireworks.

~Never place your face or any other part of your body over fireworks.

~Never try to re-ignite fireworks that have malfunctioned. Soak with water and throw them away.

~Keep a bucket of water or a fire extinguisher handy

~Only light fireworks on a smooth flat surface away from houses, dry leaves and any other flammable materials.

~Never point, throw or shoot fireworks toward people, buildings, vehicles or wooded areas, especially if the weather has been dry.

~Never hold or get close to any lit fireworks.

~Watch what you wear. Loose clothing can catch fire, and should not be worn while handling fireworks. - American Burn Association

Legal or not, fireworks are too risky for amateurs.

Permanent scarring, loss of vision, dismemberment – these are too often the harsh realities of amateur fireworks use. To keep the public safe from fireworks-related injuries and deaths, the nonprofit NFPA urges everyone to treat fireworks, whether legal or illegal for consumers, as suitable only for use by trained professionals. According to NFPA, amateur fireworks use endangers not only the users, but also bystanders and surrounding property and structures. Pyrotechnic devices ranging from sparklers to aerial rockets cause thousands of fires and serious injuries each year.

"Safe and sane fireworks don't exist," says Dr. John Hall, NFPA's Division Manager of Fire Analysis and Research. "When things go wrong with fireworks, they go very wrong, very fast, far faster than any fire protection provisions can reliably respond."

In recent years, fireworks have been one of the leading causes of injuries serious enough to require hospital emergency room treatment. Fireworks can result in severe burns, fractures, or scars or even death or disfigurement that can last a lifetime. The thousands of serious injuries each year typically harm the eyes, head, or hands, and are mostly reported in states where fireworks are legal. Even sparklers, which are considered by many to be harmless, reach temperatures of more than 1,000° F.

"Fireworks are dangerous and unpredictable, especially in the hands of amateurs," says Judy Comoletti, NFPA's Division Manager of Public Education. "The few seconds of pleasure those fireworks may bring are not worth the risk of injury, permanent scarring, or even death."

Wooded areas, homes, and even automobiles have become engulfed in flames because of fireworks. Fireworks-related fires have typically caused at least $20 million in property loss (not adjusted for inflation) each year in recent years. A substantial portion of the structure fire property loss due to fireworks typically involves bottle rockets or other fireworks rockets. These rockets can land on rooftops or wedge within certain structures and still retain enough heat to cause a fire.

"For most people, their family and their home represent the hard work of a lifetime and their hopes for the future," says Dr. Hall. "No one would risk losing what's most important to them if they understood the dangers of fireworks. There are safer alternatives to using fireworks on the Fourth of July."

Public fireworks displays are one of those alternatives. Conducted by trained professionals, these displays are the smartest and safest fireworks alternative for anyone because they are established under controlled settings and regulations. After these displays, or any other time, children should never pick up fireworks that may be left over. Fireworks that have been ignited and fail to immediately explode or discharge can cause injury because they may still be active. Children should always tell an adult if they find fireworks rather than picking up smoking or charred fireworks themselves, which is just too risky. –National Fire Protection Association www.nfpa.org

Barry J Brickey

Public Education Officer

Kingsport Fire Department

130 Island Street

Kingsport, TN 37660

Ph: 423-224-2820 or 423-229-9440


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