Fireworks safety reminders

With the summer season well underway, State Fire Marshal Richard Miller today urges consumers to use extreme caution when using any type of fireworks especially the more powerful fireworks such as firecrackers, and consumer-grade devices such as bottle rockets, sky lanterns, and Roman candles; and to buy only from state-certified retailers. “Safety must be the top priority and responsibility for both consumers and certified fireworks retailers,” said Miller. “Carelessness with fireworks can quickly turn holiday celebrations and summer fun into tragedy.”

Consumer fireworks which became legal January 1, 2012, must meet Consumer Product Safety standards and will only be sold to individuals 18 years of age or older. Consumer fireworks include low impact fireworks – ground-based items such as sparklers, toy snakes, snaps, and poppers which remain legal for sale and use. State law requires consumer-grade fireworks only be ignited from personal property. It is illegal to ignite fireworks on public property (including streets and sidewalks), school property, church property, or another person’s property without their express permission. State law makes it illegal to discharge fireworks when intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. 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 years and fines of up to $10,000 or both, depending upon the severity of the crime.

“The Bureau of Fire Services fire inspectors are issuing tickets to sellers who are non-compliant with the Fireworks Safety Act,” said Miller. “We must ensure fireworks retailers operate their businesses safely to protect the public.” Miller encourages people to enjoy professional fireworks displays by attending events run by their municipalities.

If consumer fireworks are used at home, here are safety tips to protect lives and property: * Always purchase fireworks from an authorized retailer and follow the manufacturer’s directions. * Do not buy fireworks packaged in brown paper, they are for professional use. * Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities, including sparklers. * Light fireworks one at a time, then immediately back away to a safe distance. * Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap. * Douse spent fireworks in a bucket of water before discarding it. NEVER: * Allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks. * Place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. * Try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully. * Point or throw fireworks at other people. * Carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers. * Purchase or use unlabeled fireworks, experiment with or make your own fireworks. * Re-light “dud” fireworks that have not fully functioned; (instead, wait 15 to 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water).

Miller also warns of children being badly burned by sparklers each year. Sparklers can reach 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit which can cause third degree burns. They can quickly ignite clothing and can cause grass fires if thrown on the ground. Promptly dispose of used sparklers in a bucket of water.

Sky lanterns can be just as dangerous as they are beautiful. Sky lanterns 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 to 12 minutes. While producing a beautiful visual effect, sky lanterns can pose a significant fire hazard if not used properly. Safety tips when using sky lanterns: * Carefully read and follow the manufacturer’s directions. * Always keep a supply of water or a fire extinguisher nearby. * Do not leave young children unattended around sky lanterns or allow them to operate one. * Do not use sky lanterns when prevailing winds are greater than 5 miles per hour. Check wind direction for the intended flight path of the sky lantern. * Do not release sky lanterns within five miles of an airport or near homes, trees or dry grass. A list of legal consumer fireworks, legal low impact fireworks, and novelties is outlined below or go to . To learn more about fireworks safety, the Michigan Fireworks Safety Act, or obtain a list of state-certified fireworks retailers, go to the Bureau of Fire Services website at<>.