4th of July Fireworks Safety
The most dangerous time of the year for injuries and fires caused by fireworks is here. While incidents related to fireworks can occur anytime, most occur between June 1st and July 31st as we celebrate the Independence Day holiday on the 4th of July.
The best way to be safe during this holiday is to leave the fireworks to the professionals. Attend one of the many fireworks exhibitions in the Willamette valley.
But if you and your family choose to use fireworks, obey the law and think safety. There were 331 fireworks-related fires reported in 2007 in Oregon. That number represents an increase of almost 17 percent in fireworks-related incidents from 2006. Total dollar loss from fireworks-related fires in 2007 is an estimated $1,443,659. Youths, seventeen and younger, were responsible 23 percent of the fireworks-related fires and adults eighteen and older were responsible for 77 percent of fireworks-related fires last year.
In Oregon, legal fireworks can only be sold from June 23rd through July 6th at licensed retail stands. Oregon law requires that a person be at least sixteen years of age to purchase any fireworks.
Oregon law prohibits the sale or use of fireworks that do the following:
• Fly through the air
• Move more than twelve feet on smooth ground
• Act in an uncontrolled manner.
Examples of illegal fireworks include firecrackers, bottle or skyrockets, Roman candles and chasers.
Always remember, under Oregon law officials may seize illegal fireworks and fine offenders up to $500 per violation. Any person misusing fireworks or whose fireworks cause damage may be required to pay for the resulting damage caused by the fire or other damage, such as injuries to people or pets. Parents, too, are liable for fireworks damage caused by their children. Costs may include assessed fines as well as costs of suppressing the fire by the fire department.
When using fireworks, the following safety procedures should always be followed:
• Have a hose or a bucket of water handy for emergencies and to douse misfires or spent fireworks.
• Always have an adult present when children are using fireworks.
• Read and follow label directions carefully.
• Only use fireworks outdoors and away from buildings, shrubbery and dry grass.
• Light one at a time and move away quickly.
• Never point or throw fireworks at people, pets, cars or buildings.
• Keep fireworks away from small children.
• Do not alter fireworks or attempt to make your own.
Sparklers, often given to young children, can burn at temperatures up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and can cause serious burn injuries instantly with scars that will last a lifetime.
Firecrackers, bottle rockets, sparklers, and Roman candles cause most injuries. Bottle rockets accounted for two-thirds of fireworks-related injuries in the United States last year. Over one-half of fire-works related injuries were eye injuries.
Finally, remember fireworks can frighten pets, so be aware and keep your pets inside whenever fire works are being used.