Tennessee State Fire Marshal Julie Mix McPeak has one bit of advice for the amateur pyro-technicians poised to light those fireworks tonight.
Leave it to the pros.
“We would encourage you to enjoy the holiday at a public display presented by trained professionals, where compliance with state-of-the-art fire codes offers a safer way to celebrate our nation’s independence," McPeak says.
McPeak certainly isn’t the first fire marshal to warn amateurs to stay away from fireworks. But she does make her case with a couple of pertinent statistics.
Throughout the country, more fires are reported on Independence Day than any other day of the year. For every five fires reported on the Fourth of July, two result from the misuse of fireworks. In addition, 8700 people end up in the ER each year because of fireworks-related injuries.
In 2011, fireworks caused an estimated 17,800 reported fires. These fires resulted in an estimated eight reported civilian deaths, 40 civilian injuries and $32 million in direct property damage.
In Tennessee, 882 fireworks-related fires caused more than $1.2 million in damage during the four-year period between 2009 and 2013.
For those who insist on using their own fireworks, McPeak suggests checking local ordinances to see if they are legal. And it's not just things that go "boom" either-- in 2011, the state of Tennessee reclassified Chinese sky lanterns as "special" fireworks that can only be used by individuals who have a professional license.
Among McPeak's other suggestions:
-Never allow children to handle or ignite fireworks, including sparklers
-Read and follow all warnings and instructions
-Wear eye protection
-Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks
-Never throw or point fireworks at people or animals
-Only light fireworks outdoors on a smooth, flat surface away from homes, dry leaves and flammable materials
-Never try to re-light fireworks that have not fully functioned
-Keep a bucket of water and a garden hose nearby in case of a malfunction or fire