Fireworks Safety

By: Erica Hurtt
By: Erica Hurtt

"The whole driveway was just strewn with bottle rockets," said Loves Park Fire Chief Phil Foley.

A tough lesson on the dangers of fireworks.

Investigators suspect that a burning bottle rocket sparked a fire in the garage of the Loves Park home. Flames engulfed the structure and spread to the house.

"I think it's a common thing for anybody in northern Illinois. Being so close to Wisconsin people go there to buy fireworks not knowing unsupervised this is the result that could happen," said Chief Foley.

Investigators suspect fireworks caused the blaze but it's difficult to prove. Neighbors reported hearing fireworks in the area, but the family denies fireworks were being set off near the house.

Family members also denied our request for an on camera interview and the official cause is listed as undetermined, but this wouldn't the first fire caused by fireworks and investigators say it won't be the last.

"We're going to have one probably every summer, at least one if not more," said Rockford Fire Department Investigator Mark Marinaro.

Marinaro says even legal devices can be dangerous and children should always be supervised when using fireworks.

"You might think they're out and you walk away and they're not completely out. They could be slightly burning and that catches a bush on fire or a garage," said Marinaro.

Illegal use of fireworks also can result in stiff fines, serious property damage, even jail time.

This is what's legal in Illinois: any firework containing less than .25 grains of explosive material are permitted, including toy caps, sparklers, snake pellets, glow worm pellets and snake bombs.

Investigator Marinaro reminds us that while these devices are legal, they're still dangerous and caution should be exercised.

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Firework Safety Tips

  • Follow state guidelines and code.

  • In the state of Illinois, only sparklers and/or other novelties are legal.

  • Remember: The age limit for buying fireworks is 18.

  • ALL bangers are illegal for general sale.

  • Don’t buy fireworks if they are not marked as meeting BS 7114. They could be illegal imports.

  • Don’t attempt to use professional high-power fireworks, such as those used in organized displays. To the untrained, they are as lethal as hand grenades.

  • Keep fireworks in a closed box, take them out one at a time and put the top back on straight away.

  • Follow the instructions on each firework carefully - read them by torchlight and never by naked flame.

  • Light the end of the firework’s fuse at arm’s length, preferably with a safety firework lighter or fuse wick.

  • Never throw fireworks.

  • Don’t let off fireworks in a street or public place - It’s not only dangerous, it’s also an offense

  • Stand well back and never return to a firework once lit - it may go off in your face.

  • Never put fireworks in your pocket.

  • Keep pets indoors.

  • Never fool with fireworks!

Mishap Statistics

  • Sparklers are the second highest cause of fireworks injuries requiring trips to the emergency room. Sparklers can heat up to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit, hot enough to melt gold.

  • From 1980-1994, fireworks accounted for 29 fires, 65 explosions and 114 deaths. The victims of these accidents ranged in ages from four months to 88-years-old.

  • Misuse caused 60 percent of injuries.

  • Data from the United States Eye Injury Registry shows that bystanders are more often injured by fireworks than operators themselves.

  • Forty-four percent of the injured are children ages 19-years-old and under.

  • On the 4th of July in a typical year, fireworks cause more fires in the U.S. than all other causes combined. But because most people encounter the risk of fireworks only once a year, many Americans do not realize how great that risk is.

Fireworks by Class

  • C Class - Consumer fireworks are determined by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and regulated in Code of Federal Regulations, Title 16, Parts 1500-1507 and they are controlled on a state-by-state basis by the State Fire Marshal's Offices.

  • D Class - Display fireworks are regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms in Code of Federal Regulations, Title 27 and their use is regulated by NFPA 1123, Code for the Display of Fireworks.

Sources: http://www.hertsdirect.org, http://www.preventblindness.org, and
http://www.nfpa.org, contributed to this report.


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