June 28, 2018 | Middlefield, CT – Fourth of July celebrations are about to begin and, with them, dozens upon dozens of fireworks displays. Although consumer fireworks are legal in Connecticut, the Middlefield Volunteer Fire Company strongly discourages amateurs from using them.
“The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public display orchestrated by trained professionals,” says Middlefield Volunteer Fire Company Chief Peter Tyc. “More fires are reported on July 4th than any other day of the year. And, fireworks are responsible for 40 percent of those fires.”
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), every July 4th thousands of people, most often children and teens, are injured while using consumer fireworks. In 2011, fireworks caused an estimated 17,800 reported fires, including 1,200 total structure fires, 400 vehicle fires, and 16,300 outside and other fires. These fires resulted in an estimated 40 civilian injuries and $32 million in direct property damage. In 2013, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 11,400 people for fireworks related injuries; 55 percent of those injuries were to the extremities and 38 percent were to the head.
Injuries caused by fireworks typically require hospital emergency room treatment – they include severe burns, fractures, scars, permanent disfigurement, and even death. It’s important to remember that even sparklers, considered by many to be a safe and harmless alternative to fireworks, reach temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit (water boils at 212 degrees and glass melts at 900 degrees).
The risk of fireworks injury is the highest for children under up to four years old. In 1991, three-year-old Michael Shannon was killed when a legal consumer firework struck him in the head during a July 4th family celebration. He was standing 40 feet away from it, between his mother’s legs where he was presumed safe.
This Independence Day, if you plan on using fireworks, here are some tips to keep you safe:
- All fireworks are illegal in the State of Connecticut, with the exception of sparklers and fountains.
- Obey all local laws regarding the use of fireworks.
- A responsible adult SHOULD supervise all firework activities. Never give fireworks to children.
- Alcohol and fireworks do not mix.
- Wear safety glasses when shooting fireworks.
- Light one firework at a time and then quickly move away.
- Use fireworks OUTDOORS in a clear area; away from buildings and vehicles.
- Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
- Always have a bucket of water and charged water hose nearby.
The Connecticut State Fire Marshal reports that a number of house fires and grass fires have been attributed to the use of fireworks. The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public display conducted at a state-approved site by Connecticut licensed pyrotechnicians.
The Middlefield Volunteer Fire Company is currently participating in Everyday Hero CT, a program dedicated to increasing the number of volunteer firefighters throughout the state. Eighty percent of all fire personnel in Connecticut are volunteers, and the majority of fire departments throughout the state are experiencing a volunteer shortage. Local fire departments need volunteers of all skill levels and abilities, people willing and able to respond to emergencies whenever called upon.
“The skills and experience gained as a volunteer firefighter are invaluable and have a positive and lasting impact on the lives of others,” says Chief Fred Dudek, Everyday Hero CT program manager. “Those who join their local fire departments sign up for one of the most rewarding opportunities they’ll ever have.”