Every year, fire departments brace for the possibility of fires and injuries caused by fireworks. Officials are concerned both about the fire danger these fireworks pose, as well as the potential for devastating injuries.
“Just because they are legal, it doesn’t mean they are safe,” says Scottsdale Fire Chief Tom Shannon. “We are especially concerned this year with the amount of dry brush that is just waiting for a spark to ignite another wildfire.”
Nationally on average, fireworks caused an estimated 18,500 reported fires, including 1,300 total structure fires, 300 vehicle fires, and 16,900 outside and other fires, according to the National Fire Prevention Association. These fires resulted in an estimated eight reported civilian deaths, 40 civilian injuries and $43 million in direct property damage. In 2017, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 11,900 people for fireworks related injuries; 54% of 2015 emergency room fireworks-related injuries were to the extremities and 36% were to the head, says the NFPA. Sparklers accounted for 25 percent of the injuries.
Chief Shannon says it is preferred that fireworks be left to professional shows, which have safety personnel onsite to immediately address fire issues. He urges anyone who chooses to light fireworks on their own to use them in a safe and responsible manner. He offers the following safety tips:
- Check and obey the local laws and use common sense.
- Senate Bill 1158 allows for the sale of consumer fireworks from May 20 thru July 6. It also allows for use in Maricopa and Pima Counties from Jun. 24 thru July 6. Remember, however, just because they are legal, doesn’t mean they are safe to use.
- In Scottsdale, their use in and near many sensitive desert areas remains illegal and violators are subject to substantial fines. Use of fireworks is prohibited in Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve and Pinnacle Peak Park and all properties located within 1 mile of these fragile desert lands.
- The use of fireworks is also prohibited on all publicly-owned properties, which include but are not limited to, city buildings, city parking lots, city parks, public schools and city streets.
- Always read and follow instructions. Always have an adult present.
- Keep burning sparklers and other fireworks away from clothing and any other flammable objects.
- Only use fireworks outdoors, away from buildings and vehicles.
- Light only one firework at a time.
- Alcohol, fireworks and sparklers do not mix. Be responsible.
- Do not point or throw fireworks at another person.
- Children under the age of 12 should not handle fireworks, including sparklers.
- When finished, place used fireworks in a bucket of water.
Travelers should also be reminded that the FAA prohibits fireworks of any kind on any flight. They cannot be checked as baggage or carried on.
Get more information about fireworks or other safety topics here.