Shooting off fireworks on the Fourth of July is as big of an American tradition as baseball or apple pie, but there are important steps to take to ensure safety on one of the busiest holidays for injuries.
A 2018 report by the Consumer Product Safety Commission revealed that over 9,100 injuries and five deaths were attributed to fireworks during the holiday last year. Firecrackers, sparklers and bottle rockets are the most common fireworks that resulted in injuries.
“The first thing the community needs to keep in mind is that these are explosives that can cause permanent injury or even death, they are not toys,” Riverside Volunteer Fire Department chief Ben Crocker said. “I also warn against shooting fireworks while intoxicated ... It is a dangerous situation for all.”
Citizens shooting fireworks are encouraged to take extra precautions around children and pets. It is also suggested that citizens keep a bucket of water near their fireworks and to avoid dry grass and debris.
“Many are unaware, but the fireworks should be left overnight to prevent fires from smouldering fireworks,” Crocker added. “Of course we want to clean up messes, but we have seen many cases of fires started this way.”
Those celebrating the holiday with fireworks are advised to read the instructions and warnings listed on the products and shoot them in a safe location. The community is also warned to not hold fireworks such as roman candles, bottle rockets and mortars while they are being shot.
“Parents need to be hypervigilant during the holidays with children around fireworks,” Crocker said. “Even sparklers are dangerous for children as they can get over 1,000 degrees fahrenheit.”
It is important to note that the use and possession of fireworks is prohibited in the Huntsville city limits. However, there are several warehouses and stands throughout Walker County in Riverside and New Waverly, where the use of fireworks is permitted. Operators are also offering advice and safety tips to the community.
“Safety is obviously the number one priority when shooting fireworks,” J&B Fireworks operator Jimmie Brummett said. “I recommend that they watch out for trees and powerlines and ensure they keep a safe distance. We also recommend consumers use punks to light the fireworks and to not let children under 16 operate them.”
Fireworks will be on sale until midnight on Thursday.
“I would like to warn the community to not drink and drive or use fireworks while intoxicated,” Crocker said. “I want everyone to have a happy and safe holiday.”