Officials urge fireworks safety over holiday weekend

Published 9:26 pm Wednesday, July 2, 2014

By Christopher Edmunds

The Selma Times-Journal


Fireworks are a staple of the Fourth of July, but Selma residents should know the dangers of using fireworks at home.

In 2012, hospital emergency rooms saw an estimated 8,700 people for fireworks injuries, according to a report from the National Fire Protection Association. The most dangerous types of fireworks are small firecrackers and sparklers, according to the report.

It is illegal to set off fireworks within Selma city limits, and ignoring the rule is considered a misdemeanor and a $500 mistake.

“It shall be unlawful at any time for any person to sell, offer for sale or otherwise dispose of or to have in possession, keep, store, manufacture, use, handle, explode, discharge or shoot any pyrotechnics, commonly called ‘fireworks,’ within the city or police jurisdiction of the city,” according to the city’s ordinance on fireworks.

Sparklers are allowed within city limits, but need to be handled safely. The National Council on Firework Safety recommends the following safety tips for using sparklers:

• Always remain standing while using sparklers.

• Never hold a child in your arms while using sparklers.

• Never hold, or light, more than one sparkler at a time.

• Never throw sparklers.

• Sparkler wire and stick remain hot long after the flame has gone out. Be sure to drop spent sparklers in a bucket of water.

• Teach children not to wave sparklers, or run, while holding sparklers.

For those who will be setting off fireworks outside city limits, Chris Graham with the Selma Fire Department said to be careful and use common sense.

“Just be safe,” Graham said. “Let the adults do the work.”

Assistant State Fire Marshal Scott Pilgreen said children can enjoy fireworks on Independence Day, but they should not be the ones shooting them off.

“Children don’t always know the dangers of fireworks,” Graham said. “It’s up to the adults to be responsible and make sure everyone has a safe, enjoyable holiday.”

The Selma Fire Department issued the following tips for setting off fireworks:

• Only adults should handle fireworks

• Make sure spectators are out of range before lighting fireworks

• Never try to re-ignite duds, or fireworks that have malfunctioned

• Keep a bucket of water, garden hose or fire extinguisher handy

• Never throw, point or shoot fireworks toward people, pets, buildings or vehicles

• Do not use fireworks in wooded areas

• Never let young children play with sparklers. Temperature of an ignited tip can reach 1,200 degrees or greater.

According to the National Council on Firework Safety, the safest way to enjoy fireworks on Independence Day is to attend a public fireworks display hosted by professionals.

There will be a fireworks show at 9 p.m. at Valley Grande City Park.