Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet
Practice fireworks safety to prevent injuries July Fourth
FRANKFORT, Ky. (June 24, 2005) – Fireworks are an American summertime tradition, especially around the Fourth of July. So are fireworks injuries. Each year, Kentuckians suffer a painful array of fireworks-related injuries: burns, cuts, amputations of fingers and toes, loss of hearing or sight -- sometimes loss of life.
The Cabinet for Health and Family Services and State Fire Marshal’s office want to help keep Independence Day celebrations safe by offering tips on the right and wrong ways to use fireworks.
“We want Kentuckians to spend the Fourth of July holiday at the picnic, not the emergency room,” said State Fire Marshal Al Mitchell. “The safest way to enjoy fireworks this Fourth of July and to prevent fireworks-related injuries is to leave fireworks displays to the professionals.”
The Fire Marshal’s office reported 36 fireworks injury incidents in 2004, down from 66 the year before. Injuries ranged from minor abrasions to second- and third-degree burns and eye injuries causing blindness. “We are pleased that the number of reported fireworks-related injuries went down,” Mitchell said. “We hope Kentuckians continue this trend of practicing fireworks safety.”
Most injuries in Kentucky were caused by bottle rockets, firecrackers, aerial bursts and sparklers. Children under 5 were injured most frequently by sparklers and bottle rockets.
The University of Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center reported that most fireworks injuries treated at Kentucky hospitals are burns. But medical staffs also see lacerations, amputations, open wounds and eye injuries. Competent adult supervision is one of the best ways to prevent injuries.
It’s illegal in Kentucky to sell or use fireworks that are shot into the air or those labeled “explosive,” “emits flaming pellets,” “flaming balls,” “firecrackers,” “report” or “rocket.”
Most fireworks injuries in the United States are caused by skyrockets – illegal in Kentucky – and common firecrackers and sparklers.
Kentucky law permits those 16 and older to purchase Consumer Fireworks (formerly Class C) Type E. These legal fireworks include ground and hand-held sparkling devices (dipped stick sparkler, cylindrical and cone fountain, illuminating torch, wheel, ground spinner, flitter sparkly), smoke, novelties and trick noise makers.
Legality does not ensure safety. “Sparklers can burn at very high temperatures in excess of 1,800 degrees,” Mitchell said. “Even after the sparkler has burned out, the wire can remain hot enough to cause severe burns or ignite clothing and other flammable materials.”
FIREWORKS SAFETY TIPS
The State Fire Marshal’s office offers the following safety tips for using fireworks:
- Choose an outside area away from buildings and clear of dry weeds, grass and other vegetation. Keep a bucket of water nearby for emergencies and for pouring on fireworks that don't go off.
- Never allow young children to use fireworks without close, sober adult supervision. Sparklers, considered by many the ideal "safe" firework for the young, burn at very high temperatures and can easily ignite clothing. Do not allow any running or horseplay with or near fireworks.
- Never light fireworks while standing in a doorway or leaning out of an open window.
- Do not approach or try to re-light fireworks that have failed to perform. Douse and soak them with water and throw them away.
- Place all fireworks on the ground before lighting the fuse. Never ignite fireworks in a container, especially a glass or metal container.
- Never allow fireworks to come in contact with articles of clothing or any combustible or flammable liquid. Don’t throw or kick lit fireworks.
- Do not use or supervise the use of fireworks while under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicants.
- Do not point fireworks at other people.