Safety first when it comes to fireworks

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 3, 2002

Fireworks and celebrations go together, especially on the Fourth of July, but they can be dangerous causing serious burn and eye injuries. That is why the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and its national and state partners strongly recommend leaving fireworks to the professionals. However, for those who have wish to display them, you may want to gain more knowledge for safety’s sake.

Pam King, specialist from the Suffolk Fire Marshall’s Office, submitted firework rules for public display in Suffolk and the rest of the Hampton Roads area. Certain rules have to be followed so that the person using them won’t be in violation of the law.

King said that the request to display fireworks must come through the city manager’s office. The person has to fill out a fireworks display permit and has to provide a certificate of liability insurance.

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&uot;Upon approval there is a $25 dollar fee at the treasurer’s office,&uot; said King. &uot;The applicant must then assume full liability for any injuries to any person or persons or damages to any property which may be caused by negligence of the display. The application is then forwarded from city hall to the Fire Marshal’s office for verification and the Fire Marshal’s office will make the final decision. If someone does not have a permit, they are in violation of a Class 1 misdemeanor and the fireworks can be confiscated.&uot;

However, here are some safe tips on fireworks.

nIt is extremely important to know the difference between a legal consumer firework and a dangerous explosive device. Items such as M-80s, M-100s and blockbusters are not fireworks, they are federally banned explosives. They can cause serious injury or even death. Stay away from anything that isn’t clearly labeled with the name of the item, the manufacturer’s name and instructions for proper use.

nNever give fireworks to young children. Close adult supervision of all fireworks activities is mandatory. Even sparklers can be unsafe if used improperly.

nSelect and use only legal devices. If you choose to celebrate the Fourth of July with fireworks, check with your local police department to determine what fireworks can be legally discharged in your area.

If fireworks are legal where you live and you decide to set them off on your own, be sure to follow these important safety tips:

nAgain, never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks.

nRead and follow all warnings and instructions.

nBe sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.

nOnly light fireworks on a smooth, flat surface away from the house, dry leaves, and flammable materials.

nNever try to relight fireworks that have not fully functioned.

nKeep a bucket of water in case of a malfunction or fire.

The fire service is usually responsible for the public’s safety when a large-scale fireworks display is presented. The actual firing of the display is conducted by a trained pyrotechnic operator and crew. These professionals know and comply with all state and local regulations.

And remember, pets have very sensitive ears and the booms and bangs associated with a fireworks display can be quite uncomfortable -particularly to dogs. Also, leave the lighting of all fireworks to the trained operator when you attend a public display.