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Fireworks Safety
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By PIO / Fire Prevention Officer Scot Best
July 1, 2021

Celebrating our nation’s independence with fireworks has been a longstanding tradition in the United States. However, many people are seriously injured each year by their careless use. Each July 4th, thousands of people, most often children and teens, are injured while using consumer fireworks. Despite the dangers of fireworks, few people understand the associated risks - devastating burns, other injuries, fires, and even death. The Ridge VFD encourages you to have a fire-safe Fourth by leaving the fireworks to the professionals. To avoid the risk of injury and property damage associated with consumer fireworks, join other community members in attending a public display put on by trained and licensed professionals.

Maryland's Fireworks Laws:
• In Maryland, private use and possession of fireworks, including sparklers, is illegal and carries a $500 fine.
• Only gold-labeled sparklers, novelty items; such as party poppers, snap pops and snakes, and ground-based sparkler devices are allowed. In some local jurisdictions, the sale and use of fireworks; even sparklers, is strictly prohibited.
• Fireworks include any firecracker, skyrocket, or Roman candle. Toy caps are only permitted if the explosive content is under .25 grains and they are designed so the hand cannot come in contact with the cap when in use.
• It is against the law to sell fireworks in Maryland, and carries a $1,000 fine.
• Public fireworks displays require proper permits and insurance.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that more than twice the number of fires is reported on Independence Day than on any other day of the year in the U.S. Two out of five of these fires are caused by fireworks. According to the Maryland State Fire Marshal’s office, in 2020, Maryland fire and EMS departments responded to 14 injuries and 30 fires caused by fireworks on July 4th weekend.

Fireworks fire & injury facts from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) 2020 Fireworks Annual Report:

• CPSC received reports of 12 non-occupational, fireworks-related deaths during 2019. Seven of the deaths were associated with misuse of fireworks, two deaths were associated with fireworks device malfunction (late ignition), and three incidents were associated with unknown circumstances.
• Fireworks were involved with an estimated 10,000 injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments during 2019. The estimated rate of fireworks-related, emergency department-treated injuries in the U.S. is 3.1 per 100,000 individuals.
• An estimated 7,300 fireworks-related injuries (or 73% of the total estimated fireworks related injuries in 2019) were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments during the 1-month period between June 21, 2019 and July 21, 2019.
• Of the 7,300 estimated fireworks-related injuries sustained, 66% were to males and 34% were to females.
• Children younger than 15 years of age accounted for 36% of the estimated fireworks-related injuries. Nearly half of the estimated emergency department-treated, fireworks-related injuries were to individuals younger than 20 years of age.
• Children 0 to 4 years of age had the highest estimated rate of emergency department-treated, fireworks-related injuries (5.3 injuries per 100,000 people). Older teens, 15 to 19 years of age, had the second highest estimated rate (4.4 injuries per 100,000 people).
• There were an estimated 900 emergency department-treated injuries associated with sparklers and 400 with bottle rockets.
• There were an estimated 800 emergency department-treated injuries associated with firecrackers. Of these, an estimated 24% were associated with small firecrackers, 16% with large firecrackers, 3% with illegal firecrackers, and the remaining 57% were associated with firecrackers of an unspecified size.
• The parts of the body most often injured were hands and fingers (30%); legs (23%); eyes (15%); head, face, and ears (15%); and arms (10%).
• 58% of the emergency department-treated injuries were burns. Burns were the most common injury to hands, fingers, arms, and legs.
• Approximately 87% of the victims were treated at a hospital emergency department and then released. An estimated 12% of patients were treated and transferred to another hospital, or admitted to the hospital.

Follow these safety tips when using fireworks:

• Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
• Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.
• Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don't realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees - hot enough to melt some metals.
• Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
• Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
• Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
• Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
• Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
• Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
• After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
• Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.

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Ridge Volunteer Fire Department, Inc.
13820 Point Lookout Road
P.O. Box 520
Ridge, MD 20680
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Non-Emergency: 301-872-5571
E-mail: info@ridgevfd.org
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