The Division of Fire Safety is urging Missourians to put fireworks safety first as they prepare for this year's July 4th celebrations. Public fireworks displays not only offer spectacular sights, they are the safest.
"Consumer fireworks are potentially dangerous if there is a malfunction or if they are not used with safety in mind and with the proper precautions," State Fire Marshal Tim Bean said. "Public fireworks displays bring Missouri communities together for often breathtaking displays that can be enjoyed without risking injury or fires. Those who use consumer fireworks should start by making sure they are legal where they reside, by reviewing safety tips and by keeping fireworks away from children."
Fireworks sales at licensed seasonal retailers are legal in Missouri from June 20 to July 10. Through June 20, the Division of Fire Safety had issued 1,134 permits to seasonal retailers. DFS conducts safety inspections at fireworks retailers, including checking to make sure they sell only legally-permitted consumer fireworks, that they have at least two exits, are equipped with fire extinguishers, and that fireworks tents have been treated with fire retardant chemicals.
* According to a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission analysis, 18 people died from non-occupational fireworks incidents in 2020, compared to 12 deaths in 2019.
* About 15,600 people were treated in hospital emergency departments for fireworks injuries in 2020, according to the CPSC. There were about 10,000 ER-treated fireworks injuries in 2019.
Across the nation, July 4th is not only the busiest day of the year for fireworks, it's the busiest day of the year for fires. About 40 percent of Independence Day structure fires are the result of fireworks, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Across the U.S. in 2018, fireworks started an estimated 19,500 fires, including 1,900 structure fires, 500 vehicle fires and 17,100 outside and other types of fires. These fires caused five deaths and $105 million in direct property damage, according to NFPA. About 250 people go to emergency rooms each day with fireworks-related injuries in the 30 days around July 4th.
Missourians who choose to use consumer fireworks should follow these safety tips:
* 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.
Sparklers are a good example of how people underestimate the danger of fireworks. Sparklers burn at about 2,000 degrees - hot enough to melt some metals. They can quickly ignite clothing and leave young children with severe burns. According to the NFPA, sparklers account for more than 25 percent of emergency room visits for fireworks injuries.
For questions or concerns about firework safety, firework rules, or firework dealers can contact the Division of Fire Safety at (573) 751-2930. More fireworks safety tips are available at https://dfs.dps.mo.gov/safetytips/fireworks-safety.php.