State Fire Marshal urges Missourians to use fireworks safely

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Missouri State Fire Marshal Randy Cole encouraged Missourians to enjoy the Fourth of July but exercise caution when using consumer fireworks, according to a news release from his office.

"Those most at risk for fireworks-related injuries are children, who may not fully understand the danger of even novelty items such as sparklers," Cole said. "The safest way to enjoy fireworks on the Fourth of July is to watch one of the many professional displays held in communities throughout the state."

Emergency room records for 2006 -- the most current year available -- indicate there were at least 397 people treated for fireworks-related injuries.

In the period from 2002 to 2006, Missouri emergency rooms reported over 2,230 injuries and at least one fatality attributed to fireworks-related injuries.

Cole said that everyone choosing to use consumer fireworks should follow some common sense safety practices to minimize the chance of injury or fire.

--Always use fireworks under adult supervision.

--Read and follow instructions printed on the fireworks.

--Always keep water and sand nearby.

--Never light fireworks indoors; only use outdoors.

--Never try to make or alter fireworks.

--Never re-light fireworks that appear to have malfunctioned.

--Only light one firework at a time.

--Never allow small children to go near fireworks.

--Store fireworks in a cool dry place. Don't save fireworks from season to season.

--Never lean over the top of fireworks when lighting them.

--Tie long hair back, wear safety goggles and don't wear loose fitting clothing while using fireworks.

--Sparklers should be immersed in sand once they burn out -- they are still very hot and can cause serious burns.

--Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Always have a "designated shooter."

Caution should be used when purchasing fireworks, Cole added.

The Missouri Division of Fire Safety has licensed over 1,400 seasonal retailers this year and a state permit should be displayed in all licensed locations.

Legal consumer fireworks are packaged in bright colored wrappers with safety warnings on the packaging. Only purchase consumer fireworks from properly licensed seasonal retailers.

"Never buy fireworks from an individual's house or from someone on the street. Such fireworks are likely to be illegal fireworks or explosives that can cause serious injury and death," Cole said.

Illegal explosives are often handmade in homes or illicit factories.

They go by names such as M80, Quarter Stick, or Cherry Bomb.

Cole said those approached to purchase illegal explosives should decline the offer and then call a local law enforcement agency.

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