Festive and Dangerous: 5 Fireworks Safety Tips

Whether it’s the Fourth of July, New Years Eve or anytime in between, fireworks are one of the most exciting - and potentially dangerous - ways to celebrate the holidays.

Patch File Photo
Patch File Photo

“Fireworks - any way you look at it, whether they’re legal or illegal, they’re dangerous if misused,” said Bob Wall, Public Education Manager for Prince William County Dept. of Fire and Rescue.

Here are five tips for staying safe around fireworks for any holiday.

1. If a firework misfires, don’t be tempted to check on it immediately. Wait 20-30 minutes and soak it in a bucket of water before disposing them.

“We had a misfire here today at this event before it started and we waited 30 minutes before we even went down there to check on it,” Wall said. “And you do that so it doesn’t explode in your face. People don’t do that in the real world. If it misfires, they’re going to walk right down to it, look right down on it to see what happened.”

2. Light fireworks one at a time and move back immediately. Failure to do so could result in serious injury.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, approx. 200 people go to the emergency room every day around the July 4 holiday. Most injuries occur from firecrackers and novelty devices, followed by bottle rockets and sparklers. Hands and fingers are the body parts that are most susceptible to injury, and more than half of all injuries in 2012 were burns.

3. Do the same for handheld fireworks like sparklers.

Sparklers can reach temperatures of 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit - 300 degrees hotter than the temperature at which glass melts. The wire and the tip of a sparkler can remain hot long after the flame extinguishes.

4. Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them. Check your local government website for firework regulations.

Possessing, selling or using unlawful fireworks is a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a fine of $2,500. Virginia offers a constantly updated approved permissible fireworks list available on the Virginia Department of Fire Programs website.

5. Consider attending a public fireworks display conducted by trained professionals.

Check your local fire and rescue department or fire marshal's office for a schedule of public fireworks displays. A list of displays in Prince William County can be found here.


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