June 28, 2010

Missouri state fire marshal urges fireworks safety for July 4th holiday and year round

Two serious injuries this past weekend point to the danger fireworks can pose

In advance of the July 4th holiday weekend, State Fire Marshal Randy Cole is reminding Missourians that public fireworks displays put on by professionals offer the most spectacular sights and are the safest option for the public.
"Too often during the July 4th holiday, someone playing with fireworks winds up getting hurt, hurting a bystander or starting a fire," said Fire Marshal Cole.  "The misuse of fireworks in backyards and neighborhood streets is dangerous for everyone involved.  Even sparklers—which some people mistakenly think are harmless—can lead to serious burns.”
There were at least two fireworks incidents with serious injuries during the past weekend.  Saturday, June 27, in Camden County, a man suffered hand injuries when consumer fireworks exploded.  The Office of the Missouri State Fire Marshal is investigating. 
The Raytown Fire Department is investigating an explosion that occurred the same day, in which a woman suffered life-threatening injuries.  The fire department reports the woman was critically injured and two others suffered injuries in an explosion in a residence.  Investigators believe fireworks were being disassembled when the explosion occurred.  The explosion blew out windows and tore a door of its hinges.
"Incidents like these remind us all that fireworks are not toys and that they must be handled with extreme care," said Fire Marshal Cole.  "Consumer fireworks should not be altered and they should not be used or handled indoors.  It is also illegal for the general public to buy or possess commercial grade fireworks, which are also called display fireworks.”
According to National Fire Protection Association, far more fires are reported in the U.S. on a typical Independence Day than on any other day of the year, and fireworks account for more than half of those fires. 
According to the NFPA, in 2008, fireworks caused an estimated 22,500 reported fires, including 1,400 structure fires, 500 vehicle fires, and 20,600 outside and other fires. The fires resulted in an estimated $42 million in direct property damage.
The most recent state and national figures available indicate:

·    An estimated 9,800 people were treated for fireworks related injuries at U.S. hospital emergency rooms in 2007; 36 percent of emergency room fireworks-related injuries were to the head and 56 percent were to the extremities.

·    The risk of fireworks injury is two-and-a-half times as high for children ages 5-14 as for the general population.

·    In a typical year, more U.S. fires are reported on Independence Day than on any other day, and fireworks account for half of those fires.

·    Department of Health and Senior Services records show a 40 year old man was killed in Missouri by fireworks on July 4, 2008.

·    In Missouri, emergency room records indicate 416 people were treated for fireworks-related injuries in 2007; 30 people were admitted.

·    In Missouri, emergency room records indicate that from 2002 to 2007, almost 2,650 people were treated for fireworks related injuries.

Fireworks sales at licensed seasonal retailers are legal in Missouri from June 20 to July 10.  This year, the Office of the State Fire Marshal licensed 1,299 seasonal retailers.  State permits should be displayed at all seasonal retail locations.  Missourians who choose to use consumer fireworks should follow basic safety practices:

·    Purchase fireworks only from a properly licensed retailer.

·    Always wear eye protection and earplugs if you have sensitive ears.

·    Tie back long hair and don't wear loose fitting clothes.

·    Only light one firework at a time.

·    Never try to re-light fireworks that have malfunctioned.

·    Never have any part of your body over fireworks.

·    Keep young children away from fireworks.

·    Never throw or point fireworks at other people.

·    Never carry fireworks in your pocket.

·    Make sure to have water nearby in case of a fire or an accident.

·    Dispose of fireworks by soaking them in water and leaving them in a trash can.

·    Never light fireworks indoors.

·    Don't use fireworks while consuming alcohol.  Use a "designated shooter.”

·    Store fireworks in a cool, dry place. Don't save fireworks from season to season.

Anyone with concerns about a fireworks dealer or the types of fireworks being sold by a dealer should call the State Fire Marshal's office at: 573-751-2930.


For more information, call 573-751-5432 or e-mail