Independence Day usually brings thoughts of parades, backyard barbecues and, of course, fireworks. This year, the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) wants the public to focus on safety in addition to celebrating the holiday, particularly when using certain types of fireworks recently legalized in Kentucky.
House Bill 333, signed by Gov. Steve Beshear in March, expanded legal fireworks in the state from ground devices and novelties to include a full line of consumer fireworks, such as Roman candles and other fireworks that shoot into the air. The law regulates the sale, storage, location and display of the explosives.
The new law contains a local-option provision, allowing cities to restrict the types of fireworks allowed, but the Louisville Metro Council decided to follow the more liberal state law.
“Fireworks can be a fun way to celebrate and add to the festivity of the holiday, but don’t forget injury prevention,” said DPH Commissioner William Hacker. “This year, the types of fireworks that can be legally sold in Kentucky have expanded and some might be new to consumers. Make sure you know how to properly use these items and are working to avoid injury.”
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is asking states to join its nationwide effort to prevent injuries related to fireworks. According to the CPSC, fireworks-related injuries in 2010 were associated with approximately 1,900 people ending up in emergency rooms. CPSC’s annual death and injury report on fireworks incidents indicates that nearly half of these injuries affected children younger than 15 years of age.
“Although fireworks play a major role in Fourth of July celebration, you have to keep public safety in mind – even with smaller items,” said Kathy Fowler, director of the public health protection and safety division in DPH. “Firecrackers, bottle rockets and sparklers are some of the biggest culprits of injury. Please use caution if you are using these items.”
In fact, according to the CPSC, a sparkler can get as hot as the flame on some blow torches and can easily ignite clothing.
No fireworks can be considered safe enough to let young children play with them without direct adult supervision under any circumstances,” Fowler added, emphasizing the following guidelines when using fireworks:
- Never allow young children to ignite fireworks.
- Adults should always supervise fireworks activities.
- Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that fizzle and don’t go off.
- 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.
- After fireworks fully complete their functioning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding to prevent a fire.
More guidelines are at CPSC’s website www.cpsc.gov/info/fireworks/recalls.html.