The Fourth of July would not be the same without breathtaking fireworks, but tragedy can strike within seconds when fireworks are not properly and safely used, Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department officials said.
Thousands of people are injured each year in the U.S. due to fireworks. To avoid this fate during this year’s Independence Day celebrations, follow these safety tips when using permissible fireworks:
• Keep all bystanders at least 25 feet away from fireworks.
• During the use of permissible fireworks, minors should be supervised by a parent or legal guardian. Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
• Adults should always supervise activities involving the use of permissible fireworks. Parents often do not realize there are more injuries from sparklers to children under 5 than from any other type of fireworks. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 1,200 degrees, which is hot enough to melt some metals.
• When using permissible fireworks, place the device on a flat surface, clear of any combustible material and clear of all buildings (i.e., at least 50 feet away).
• Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.
• Never have any portion of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse.
• Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not functioned fully.
• Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
• Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
• Light one fireworks device at a time, then back away to a safe distance immediately after lighting.
• Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
• Avoid buying or handling fireworks that come packaged in brown paper, as this can often be a sign that the fireworks are commercial or display-type fireworks made for professional fireworks shows. These fireworks can pose a serious danger to consumers and the public.
• Read the directions on fireworks packaging.
• Store fireworks in a cool, dry place.
• Soak used fireworks in a bucket of water to ensure they have been thoroughly extinguished before disposal.
Also, to ensure the safety of your pets during fireworks season:
• Don’t bring your pets to a fireworks display, even a small one.
• If fireworks are being used near your home, put your pet in a safe, interior room to avoid exposure to the sound.
• Make sure your pet has an identification tag, in case it runs off during a fireworks display.
• Never shoot fireworks of any kind (consumer fireworks, sparklers, fountains, etc.) near pets.
For an expanded list of fireworks safety tips, as well as information on fireworks safety-related publications, reports, videos, news and recalls, visit the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Fireworks Information Center at www.cpsc.gov/Safety-Education/Safety-Education-Centers/Fireworks.
If you would like to dispose of any illegal or unwanted consumer fireworks in your possession without penalty, contact the Fairfax County fire marshal at (703) 246-4849.
A list of legal and illegal fireworks for Virginia can be found at www.dof.virginia.gov/fire/safety/fireworks.htm.