When used as directed, fireworks can help make special occasions like the Fourth of July fun and memorable. If used improperly, however, they can cause serious burns, fires, traumatic amputations and even death.
Now that consumers can buy airborne fireworks without leaving Michigan, Sgt. Jason Dumas, a fire prevention specialist, said he and his colleagues at the Macomb Township Fire Department, are "anticipating an increase (in fireworks use), preparing for the worst and hoping for the best."
"We expect an increase in runs because of fire-related injuries," Dumas said.
Fireworks safety really just boils down to using common sense, he added.
“Safety must be the top priority and responsibility for both consumers and certified fireworks retailers,” said State Fire Marshal Richard Miller, in a prepared statement. “Celebrations and summer fun can quickly turn into tragedy when there is carelessness in using fireworks.”
Dumas suggests local families play it safe and plan a visit to a professional fireworks display in one of Macomb's neighboring communities.
Adult supervision required
So, who's most at risk for injury from fireworks? According to the National Fire Protection Association, it's kids ages 5-14.
"Each Fourth of July, thousands of people, most often children and teens, are injured while using consumer fireworks," the organization's website reads.
The best way to prevent injuries in children and teens, Miller said, is by supervising them at all times and leading by example.
Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks, including sparklers, and always follow the manufacturer’s directions for the proper use of the device, Miller recommends.
One of the most dangerous fireworks for younger children is the seemingly innocuous sparkler, which burns at an average temperature of 1,200 degrees – hot enough to melt some metals. Sparklers can quickly ignite clothing and stay hot long after they’ve burned out. They should be promptly disposed of in a bucket of water.
The American Pyrotechnics Association website also offers several fireworks safety tips from the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Council on Fireworks Safety, which recommend that consumers:
- Always read and follow label directions
- Always have an adult present
- Only buy from reliable fireworks sellers – never experiment or attempt to make your own fireworks
- Only ignite fireworks outdoors, light only one at a time and never reignite malfunctioning fireworks
- Dispose of fireworks properly
- Be sure to have water handy
- Never give fireworks to small children
- Store fireworks in a cool, dry place
- Never throw fireworks at another person
- Never carry fireworks in your pocket or shoot fireworks in metal or glass containers
The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs’ Bureau of Fire Services emphasizes that should a firework not go off properly, it should not be relit. Instead, it should be doused with water and left untouched for 15 to 20 minutes. Then, it may be picked up with a shovel and put into a bucket of water, where it should soak overnight before disposal.
What's legal, what's not?
Legal consumer-grade fireworks: Aerials, bottle and sky rockets, reloadable shells, missile type rockets, Roman candles and firecrackers
Illegal: Cherry bombs, M 80s, silver salutes