BCFPD blows up watermelons for fireworks safety demonstration

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COLUMBIA - The Boone County Fire Protection District blew up watermelons Thursday as part of a fireworks safety demonstration.

Battalion Chief Gale Blomenkamp said about 200 people go to the emergency room every day around the Fourth of July with fireworks-related injuries.

"You don't want to be one of those statistics," he said. "And so we want people to follow the general manufacturer's instructions that are on the fireworks themselves. What we see injuries coming from are people that are too close to the fireworks when they go off, mishandling them, trying to shoot them or throw them or setting them on the ground when they're meant to go in a tube and vice versa."

The Consumer Product Safety Commission said between June 22, 2012 and July 22, 2012 more than 5,000 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms due to fireworks-related injuries.

The commission said 65 percent of all fireworks injuries happened during the 30 days surrounding July Fourth in 2013.

In 2012, CPSC said there were 8,700 injuries and six deaths from fireworks. In 2013, there were 11,400 injuries and eight deaths.

CPSC staff said the injuries mostly happened when the person using the fireworks was playing with them while they were lit, or lit the fireworks while holding them. CPSC said there were also injuries from fireworks that didn't work as expected or malfunctioned.

"People need to shoot them off the way they're meant to be shot off and have plenty of safe distance from the fireworks for the spectators," Blomenkamp said.

The commission broke down the injuries in 2012 by fireworks type.

Blomenkamp said they don't expect a lot of outdoor fires because of all of the rain.

"One of the saving graces that we have this year is a lot of rain, and so we're pretty wet," he said. "So we don't anticipate a bunch of natural cover fires, which is a good thing. But we do have vehicle fires, structure fires as a result of fireworks every year. So people just need to use caution, be prepared."

Blomenkamp gave the following safety tips for using fireworks:

 

  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks
  • Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because 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
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse
  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully
  • 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
  • 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
  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them

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