Longtime Fireworks Dealer Preaches Caution
Many people, including Rose Howard and her 14-year-old son, love setting off their own fireworks. Howard and her son visited Saturn's Fireworks Friday to pick out all that bangs, booms, and bursts. "We set them off Fourth of July, Easter if we can get a way with it, and also New Year's and Christmas if we can get away with it, we sneak a little," she laughed.
The Howards filled their baskets to the brim with 70 dollars worth of various fireworks. They plan to set them off at the ABB plant near Jefferson City and then watch the fireworks on the river. Howard said safety is the most important thing to her. "I never let him set off anything by himself. We always have a bucket of water handy. I usually have a fire extinguisher and some sand also, just in case," Howard said.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's (CPSC) most recent 2009 report found that 7,000 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms due to fireworks-related injuries. Children under 15 accounted for 40 percent of the injuries. And 800 of those injuries came from sparklers. The U.S. Fire Administration says sparklers burn at approximately 2,000 degrees.
But Saturn Fireworks owner Glenn Kilburn said there is no need to fear fireworks, "Fireworks are not dangerous if they're handled properly, used properly, not abused," Kilburn said. He said fireworks can get a bad name because people often associate the Class C fireworks sold at firework stands and stores and the Class B fireworks. Class B fireworks are banned by the federal government. Class B includes M-80's, cherry bombs, aerial bombs, and firecrackers containing more that two grains of powder, and mail-order kits.
Kilburn has sold fireworks for 30 years and said people should, "use common sense and caution" when using fireworks. He also has some advice for parents. "The best thing they can do is practice common sense and one of the things is 'under adult supervision,' that means adults should act like adults because you know, our children are watching what the adults do. They're going to mimic. So if adults are misusing and abusing fireworks and shooting them at each other and holding them in their hand guess what the kids are gonna do that too," Kilburn said.
The CPSC and Kilburn have many of the same recommendations. Children under the age of 12 should not use fireworks and children over 12 should only light off fireworks under adult supervision. Other recommendations include:
- Light fireworks outdoors in clear area away from houses, dry leaves or grass and flammable materials
- Keep a bucket of water or garden hose nearby for emergencies and for pouring on fireworks that don't go off
- Do NOT try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Douse and soak them with water and throw them away.
- Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks
- Never ignite fireworks in a container
- Keep unused fireworks away from firing areas
- Store fireworks in a dry, cool, place and check instructions for special storage directions.
- Observe local laws
- Never have any portion of your body directly over a firework while lighting
- Don't experiment with homemade fireworks
- Do NOT alter fireworks
Kilburn also said fireworks are extremely regulated. They are regulated at the federal, state and local level. For example a fuse must last between 3-9 seconds before going off.
This year is an especially good year for fireworks sellers since the Fourth of July falls on a Sunday, giving people more leisure time to set them off. Customers come and go from Saturn's Fireworks store loading up on their favorite bombs bursting in air and hopefully having a safe holiday, too.