Installation Management fire inspector shares fireworks safety tips

By Daryhl Page, Fire Inspector DLA Fire and Emergency Services, DLA Installation Management Richmond

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As the Fourth of July holiday approaches, many are excited to see the fireworks show sparkling in color across the dark skies. It’s a beautiful sight that many try to duplicate in their backyards, parks and sometimes in neighborhood streets. This can lead to some devastating mishaps that I’m sure we’ve all heard about before. The danger to yourself, children, pets, homes and others should be taken into consideration before trying to become a fireworks expert.

Many may not know, even when done by professionals, the ever present danger. The Virginia Department of Forestry advises you to contact your local county/city administration to see if fireworks are banned or restricted. Many types of fireworks including firecrackers, sparklers, bottle rockets, skyrockets, and torpedoes that explode, travel laterally, rise into the air, or fire projectiles into the air are illegal in Virginia unless you are a licensed contractor. A good alternative to personal fireworks are the community displays.

If you are planning to light fireworks, here are a few safety tips to keep in mind:

  1. Make sure fireworks are legal in your area
  2. Never allow young children to ignite or play with fireworks.
  3. Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose close by.
  4. Never pick-up or try to relight fireworks that have not ignited fully or operated correctly.
  5. Light fireworks one at a time, then move away quickly.

And remember, what goes up, must come down. So beware of your surroundings, other’s property, dry fields, vehicles, and other people.

In 2017 according to the National Safety Council, at least eight people died and roughly 12,000 were injured badly enough to require medical treatment after fireworks-related incidents.  While the majority of these incidents were due to amateurs attempting to use professional-grade, homemade or other illegal fireworks or explosives, thousands were from less powerful devices like small firecrackers and sparklers.

More fires were reported on July Fourth than any other day of the year. The National Safety Council website reported that in 2017 fireworks cause on average 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicles fires and nearly 17,000 other fires resulting in thousands of injuries.

Safety is everyone’s responsibility, so keep others safe as well as yourselves by spreading these safety tips in your community and with your family.