State Fire Marshal Butch Browning says he expects reports of “about eight to 10 significant burn injuries” this 4th of July, the average toll fireworks take in Louisiana every Independence Day on people who fail to follow basic safety rules.
Hospitals are required to report the injuries to the Fire Marshal’s office, Browning said.
The top reasons for the burns?
“People lighting the pyrotechnics in their hands, instead of setting them on a stable base, lighting them and moving away quickly,” Browning said.
The other top cause of injuries from fireworks, the personal use of which is prohibited in many jurisdictions, is when people “repackage fireworks, trying to make a bigger boom,” Browning said.
For example, he said, they may set a whole package of pyrotechnics off instead of unwrapping the fireworks and lighting each of them individually.
In those cases, the explosion of the fireworks can “throw shrapnel and can also start a fire, because it’s a lot more powerful,” he said.
Browning advises people who are burned by fireworks, to immediately flush the burn with tap water for about 10 minutes and get medical attention.
For safety’s sake, Browning advises folks to bring their families to a public fireworks show.
More than 30 such displays have been licensed in the state by the Fire Marshal’s Office for the 4th of July this year, he said.
The National Fire Protection Association says there’s “no safe way to use consumer fireworks” and also recommends public celebrations.
“Each year, thousands of people are injured from using consumer fireworks and some of those injuries are extremely serious,” Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of outreach and advocacy, said in a news release.
“Even sparklers, which are often thought of as harmless enough for children to hold, burn at 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit and can cause significant injuries,” she said.
Personal fireworks use is illegal in the city of Baton Rouge and in East Baton Rouge Parish. Municipalities in the capital region that have likewise banned personal fireworks are Denham Springs, Walker, Gonzales, Donaldsonville and Port Allen.
The use of personal fireworks is permitted in unincorporated areas of Ascension, Livingston and West Baton Rouge parishes.
Browning said the Fire Marshal’s office has licensed approximately 650 retail fireworks stands in the state.
“It’s a pretty viable business in a lot of communities,” he said.
The vendors, he said, “are very safety conscious. It’s when the consumer takes it (the fireworks) home” that trouble can happen.
The state Fire Marshal’s Office advises the following for people who plan to set off their own fireworks:
Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper, which 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 can suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures hot enough to melt some metals.
Never place any part of the 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.