Missouri Fire Marshal urges fireworks safety

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

With Fourth of July weekend celebrations just a week away, State Fire Marshal Randy Cole, in conjunction with the National Association of State Fire Marshals, is advising Missourians that the safest way to enjoy fireworks is at public displays put on by professionals.

"Every year around the Fourth someone in Missouri, too often a child, is seriously injured playing with fireworks. These are not toys and even fireworks that seem harmless -- like sparklers --

can potentially lead to a serious burn, particularly with a youngster," State Fire Marshal Cole said.

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 last July 4th.

* 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.

Fire Marshal Cole said, "Too many times fireworks injuries can result in permanent scarring and disfigurement, usually affecting hands, fingers and facial features. In hindsight, the victims all wish they'd have been more cautious and used better judgment."

Fireworks sales at licensed seasonal retailers are legal in Missouri from June 20 to July 10. This year, the Division of Fire Safety licensed about 1,300 seasonal retailers. State permits should be displayed at all seasonal retail locations. Cole says 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.

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