Fireworks safety reminders

 With the Fourth of July holiday, hamburgers and hotdogs seem to taste better right before a great fireworks display. But, State Fire Marshal Richard Miller says Michiganders should adhere to strict safety measures and take every precaution when discharging fireworks especially during the continuing dry and hot weather across Michigan.
“Safety and adult supervision is critically important whether you’re celebrating with sparklers or the larger, more powerful legalized fireworks,” said Miller.  “Any small spark or misfire can lead to an out-of-control situation where people can easily sustain severe injuries or unintentionally start fast-spreading fires that can lead to loss of life and property.”  
Miller said there are an increasing number of reports of firework-related incidents: people in critical condition after fireworks detonated in their faces; fire damaging or destroying homes and garages that started with unsupervised children setting off bottle rockets with hot embers falling onto dry leaves and starting fires.
The Michigan Fireworks Safety Act (Public Act 256 of 2011) effective January 1, 2012, legalized the sale and use of consumer or 1.4g fireworks in Michigan.  Consumer fireworks are items such as Roman Candles, bottle rockets, sky lanterns, and other items that leave the ground. Low impact fireworks – ground-based items such as sparklers, snakes, snaps, and poppers remain legal for sale and use.  Firecrackers, cherry bombs, M80s and similar devices remain illegal.  Display fireworks such as 1.3g and above are regulated and licensed for purchase and use by the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
Individuals 18 years of age or older, upon showing proof of their age with a driver’s license, military identification card, enhanced driver’s license or passport, can purchase consumer fireworks from any authorized retailer.  An authorized retailer, by law, must have a Consumer Fireworks Certificate prominently displayed in their facility.  If a retailer sells consumer fireworks without a Consumer Fireworks Certificate issued by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, Bureau of Fire Services, that retailer is doing so illegally.  These retailers are subject to being convicted of a misdemeanor and subject to a fine of $5,000 per day they are in violation of the Act and may face imprisonment of not more than two years. 
The Michigan Fireworks Safety Act:
·         Prohibits a person from using consumer fireworks or low-impact fireworks while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
·         Prohibits consumer fireworks on public, school, church or private property of another person without that organization’s or person’s express permission. To do so, in violation of the law may result in a civil fine of up to $500. 
·         Prohibits consumer fireworks on public, school, church or private property of another person without that organization’s or person’s express permission. To do so, in violation of the law may result in a civil fine of up to $500. 
·         When fire-related incidents involve consumer, low impact, or illegal fireworks resulting in property damage, injury or death of another person, individuals are subject to being convicted of a misdemeanor or felony punishable by imprisonment  (of not more than five to 15 years), and/or fines (ranging up to $1,000, $5,000 or $10,000), depending upon the severity of the crime.
“Although fireworks and celebrations go together, fireworks can be dangerous, causing serious burn and eye injuries,” said Miller.  “You can prevent fireworks-related injuries and deaths by promoting fireworks safety where you live and during your family and neighborhood celebrations.” 
Here are some important fireworks safety tips:
Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
Always purchase your fireworks from an authorized retailer.
Follow the manufacturer’s directions for the proper use of your device.
Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper as this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.
Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities.  Parents don’t realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers.  Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt some metals. 
Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse.  Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
Never point or throw fireworks at another person, animals, houses, trees or shrubs. 
Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
In addition to fireworks, another favorite item used in celebrations is sky lanterns.  Sky lanterns are not fireworks but are classified as an aerial candle which when set aloft, are no longer under the control of the operator.  They function much like a miniature hot air balloon and remain aloft for 10-12 minutes.  While producing a beautiful visual effect, sky lanterns can pose a significant fire hazard if not used properly. 

Here are some safety tips when using sky lanterns:
Carefully read and follow the manufacturer’s directions on the proper use of your sky lantern.
Always keep a supply of water or a fire extinguisher nearby.
Young children must not be left unattended with a sky lantern or allowed to operate one.
Check local weather conditions.  Ensure that prevailing winds are not greater than 5 miles per hour and check the direction of the wind for the intended flight path of the sky lantern. .
Do not release sky lanterns of an airport or near dry crops or grass.
Ensure trees and homes are not in the intended flight path of the sky lantern.

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