News From Terre Haute, Indiana

July 3, 2013

EDITORIAL: Have a holiday blast, but be safe

Don’t let a fun time turn into a tragedy

The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Remember fireworks?

Last July, the drought led to cancellation of many public fireworks displays and to burn bans that led many people to exercise the good judgment NOT to risk the fire dangers of personal fireworks. The result was not as many “bombs bursting in air” as a normal Independence Day holiday would produce.

This year, the only problem could be wet grounds or rainy nights dampening fireworks festivities.

But we suspect Americans are ready to get a little rowdy as they celebrate their nation’s birthday this Thursday. The only thing we urge is that safety be considered whenever using personal fireworks. An accident can turn a fun evening into a nightmare very quickly.

Consider this: The Indiana State Fire Marshal’s Office reminds Hoosiers that children ages 10-14 are twice as likely to be injured by fireworks. And two out of every five fireworks injuries are individuals under the age of 15.

Even seemingly harmless fireworks can cause injuries. Sparklers, hand-held and ground fireworks alone accounted for 38 percent of the 8,600 emergency room fireworks injuries in 2010. Sparklers burn at about 1,200 degrees, which is 300 degrees hotter than the temperature at which glass melts. Glow sticks make an excellent alternative, especially for young children.

Here’s the Fire Marshal’s checklist for fireworks safety:

• Purchase and light 1.4G only consumer fireworks. Examples include bottle rockets, roman candles and firecrackers.

• Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from the reach of kids.

• Do not alter any fireworks device or attempt to make your own fireworks.

• Use a clear, open area and keep your audience a safe distance from the ignition site.

• Light one firework item at a time and never attempt to relight or fix a “dud” firework.

• Never let children handle, play with or light any fireworks.

• Have a fire extinguisher, hose, bucket of water or other water source nearby.

• Be cautious when lighting fireworks when it is windy.

• Never smoke or drink alcoholic beverages while handling fireworks.

• Never aim, point or throw fireworks at another person.

• Use fireworks outdoors, never indoors.

Don’t forget that fireworks laws do apply to everyone. The Fire Marshal also reminds Hoosiers that fireworks should be discharged only on the user’s property, on someone else’s property with that person’s consent or at a special discharge location. They can be discharged only between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. on most days other than holidays. On holidays such as Independence Day, they can be discharged until midnight. On July 1-3 and 5-9, fireworks can be discharged until two hours past sunset.

Other fireworks laws to keep in mind:

• Fireworks can be purchased only by persons 18 years of age and older.

• Children may possess or use any kind of fireworks only when an adult is present.

n Intentionally using fireworks to harm someone else may result in six months to three years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.

• Using fireworks to cause damage to someone else’s property may result in one year in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000.

And now, back to your regularly scheduled Fourth of July celebration. Have fun, but be careful.