(The Center Square) – Sales of fireworks are underway in Missouri, but the state fire marshal is reminding people to be careful.
Some communities plan to go ahead with fireworks displays for Independence Day with social distancing and face coverings. Others canceled displays.
“Each year, we remind people that the best sights and safest experiences are at public fireworks displays because of the dangers posed by using consumer fireworks,” State Fire Marshal Tim Bean said in a statement. “This year, we are concerned if more people choose to turn to consumer fireworks, it could lead to additional injuries and fires. We urge everyone to be extremely cautious, and to review safety guidelines for using consumer fireworks.”
Independence Day is the busiest day of the year nationwide for fireworks and for fires. About 40 percent of fires on July 4 are caused by fireworks, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Fireworks are blamed more than 18,500 fires each year and about 250 go to the emergency room each day in the 30 days around the holiday. Sparklers account for more than 25 percent of emergency room visits for fireworks injuries, according to the association.
Bean encouraged those who plan to use consumer fireworks to follow certain safety guidelines:
- Confirm fireworks are legal where you live; purchase fireworks only from licensed retailers.
- Only use fireworks in a large open space that has been cleared of flammable materials.
- Always keep young children away from fireworks; if teens are permitted to handle fireworks, they should be closely supervised by an adult; always wear eye protection.
- Make sure to have a garden hose or a bucket of water nearby in case of a fire.
- Only light fireworks one at a time; never try to re-light fireworks that have malfunctioned
- Dispose of fireworks by soaking them in water and leaving them in a trash can.
- Never shoot fireworks off from a glass jar or container.
- Never use fireworks while consuming alcohol.
- Never store fireworks from season to season.
Bean also reminded people that loose-fitting face coverings could pose a danger when using sparklers or an open flame to ignite fireworks. Cloth coverings can easily catch fire and cause serious facial burns, Bean said.
Fireworks sales are already underway. Sales at licensed seasonal retailers are legal from June 20 to July 10.
The Division of Fire Safety had issued 1,099 permits to seasonal retailers as of June 19, according to a news release.