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State Fire Marshal encourages fireworks safety

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The Office of the State Fire Marshal is encouraging families to attend professional, public fireworks displays this holiday season.

The Fire Marshal’s Office offers the following fireworks safety suggestions to those who intend to purchase and use fireworks:

  • Always read and follow the label directions carefully
  • Always have a garden hose or water bucket nearby for medical emergencies and/or to douse spent or misfired fireworks.
  • Adults should always supervise fireworks activity.
  • Fireworks should be placed on a hard, smooth surface prior to ignition. NEVER light fireworks in your hand.
  • Quickly light one firework at a time, and move away quickly after lighting.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at people, pets, cars, or buildings
  • Keep fireworks away from small children.
  • Do not alter or make your own fireworks.
  • After displays, never pick up fireworks that may be left over.

Fireworks that have been ignited and fail to immediately explode or discharge can cause injury, as they may still be active. Children should always tell an adult if they find fireworks rather than picking up smoking or charred fireworks themselves.

"When things go wrong, they go wrong very fast, and often with disastrous consequences," stated Fire Marshal H. "Butch" Browning."

In recent years, fireworks have been one of the leading causes of injuries serious enough to require hospital emergency room treatment. Fireworks can result in severe burns, fractures, scars, lifelong disfigurement or even death. The thousands of serious injuries each year typically harm the eyes, head, or hands and are mostly reported in states, such as Louisiana, where fireworks are legal. Even sparklers, which are considered by many to be harmless, can reach temperatures in excess of 1200 degrees F.

Wooded areas, homes, and even automobiles have become engulfed in flames because of fireworks. Firework-related fires have typically caused at least $27 million in property loss nationally (not adjusted for inflation) in recent years.

A substantial portion of the property loss is due to fireworks typically involving bottle rockets or other fireworks such as rockets/aerial devices. Rockets can land on rooftops or wedge within certain structures and still retain enough heat to cause a fire.

"A family’s home represents the work of a lifetime," said State Fire Marshal Browning. "Losing your home or having a family member seriously injured because of a fireworks accident would be disastrous."

There are safer alternatives to using fireworks this holiday season, if the public wants an alternative. Public firework displays are one of those alternatives. These are conducted by trained and licensed professionals. They are established under controlled settings and regulations.

Browning said, "Due to the fire hazard as well as the inherent risk of injury involved in fireworks, citizens are urged to use extreme caution when handling fireworks to ensure a safe, fire-free holiday. The few moments of pleasure consumer fireworks bring are not worth the risk of property loss, injury, or death. Avoid needless risks."

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