DETROIT (WWJ) – Nothing screams “summertime” quite like lighting off some fireworks with friends and family.
But as the Fourth of July holiday rolls around, state officials are urging residents to use extreme caution when using any type of fireworks — especially the more powerful consumer-grade devices such as firecrackers, bottle rockets, sky lanterns and Roman candles.
“Safety must be the top priority and responsibility for both consumers and certified fireworks retailers,” State Fire Marshal Richard Miller said in a statement. “For all the fun and excitement of fireworks, they account for an increasingly significant number of injuries and fires that are preventable if proper and strict safety measures are taken.”
State law requires consumer-grade fireworks only be ignited from personal property. It is illegal to ignite fireworks on public property (including streets and sidewalks), school property, church property, or another person’s property without their express permission. State law makes it illegal to discharge fireworks when intoxicated or under the influence of drugs.
When fire-related incidents involve consumer, low impact or illegal fireworks resulting in property damage, injury or death of another person, individuals are subject to being convicted of a misdemeanor or felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than five years and fines of up to $10,000 or both, depending upon the severity of the crime.
If consumer fireworks are used at home, here are safety tips to protect lives and property while enjoying the 4th of July:
• Always purchase fireworks from an authorized retailer and follow the manufacturer’s directions.
• Do not buy fireworks packaged in brown paper, they are for professional use.
• Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities, including sparklers.
• Light fireworks one at a time, then immediately back away to a safe distance.
• Keep people and pets out of range before lighting fireworks.
• Light fireworks outdoors on a driveway or other paved surface least 25 feet away from houses and highly flammable materials such as dry grass or mulch.
• Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
• Douse spent fireworks in a bucket of water before discarding them.
• Allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
• Place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse.
• Try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
• Point or throw fireworks at other people.
• Carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
• Purchase or use unlabeled fireworks, experiment with or make your own fireworks.
• Re-light “dud” fireworks that have not fully functioned; (instead, wait 15 to 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water).
Miller also warned of the dangers of sparklers, saying many children are badly burned by the novelty item each year.
“More than 50 percent of sparkler-related injuries happen to kids under age 14,” he said. “Sparklers can reach 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit which can cause third degree burns. They can quickly ignite clothing and can cause grass fires if thrown on the ground. Always promptly dispose of used sparklers in a bucket of water.”
Sky lanterns can be just as dangerous as they are beautiful. Sky lanterns are classified as an aerial candle which when set aloft, are no longer under the control of the operator. They function much like a miniature hot air balloon and remain aloft for 10 to 12 minutes. While producing a beautiful visual effect, sky lanterns can pose a significant fire hazard if not used properly.
Safety tips when using sky lanterns:
• Carefully read and follow the manufacturer’s directions.
• Always keep a supply of water or a fire extinguisher nearby.
• Do not leave young children unattended around sky lanterns or allow them to operate one.
• Do not use sky lanterns when prevailing winds are greater than 5 miles per hour. Check wind direction for the intended flight path of the sky lantern.
• Do not release sky lanterns within five miles of an airport; near homes, trees or dry grass.