Deadline Now: Fire & Fireworks Safety

Deadline Now: Fire & Fireworks Safety

Friday, June 27, 2014

Summertime is here, Independence Day is just around the corner and that means it's fireworks season. While fireworks are an exciting summer tradition, each year many people end up in the emergency room with burns and injuries, some of them severe, due to fireworks mishaps. Jamie Ferguson, safety education officer for the Toledo Fire & Rescue Department, shares some common sense advice to help keep everyone safer this summer.

On the web:

Here are Jack Lessenberry's Final Thoughts for this edition of "Deadline Now:"

I think nearly everybody loves watching fireworks, waiting, anticipating, finding a comfortable place to sit, and seeing how big a blowout the Grand Finale turns out to be.

That takes us back to the five-year-old in all of us. The ten-year-old in us also wants to go out to the alley and set off cherry bombs in garbage cans, and have light saber duels with sparklers. Let’s face it. The human race, or at least the male half of it, loves loud explosions and things blowing up.

I do too – so long as it isn’t people. Nobody wants to sound like a crabby old grandmother, but the fact is that fireworks can hurt you, and every year, some people suffer severe burns and lose fingers and eyes in fireworks accidents.

This is nothing new.  We have to hope this Fourth of July in Toledo is better than that in 1958, when twenty-four people were injured, some of them severely, in fireworks accidents.

One teenager suffered second degree burns when thirty-five firecrackers in his pocket accidently exploded. Fireworks are explosives, after all, and if we know anything about explosives, it is that they sometimes go off when least expected.

Even sparklers, often seen as the safest of all fireworks, can do major damage. When they are burning, they reach temperatures of twelve hundred degrees or more, hotter than what’s needed to melt glass. Despite warnings, we can probably expect safety problems to get, if anything, worse.

Michigan has considerably relaxed its rules on fireworks sales and possession in recent years. Ohio has regulations, and according to one report, seizes about fifteen thousand pounds of illegal fireworks each year. But enforcement is uneven.

According to a comprehensive study conducted for the state of Connecticut four years ago, “enforcing fireworks laws does not appear to be a top law enforcement priority,” in Ohio.

Given budget cutbacks, that may be even truer today. Which means fireworks safety should be even more of a priority for the rest of us. I went to school with a kid who was missing parts of two fingers and an eye, thanks to an M-80 he intended to throw.

He held on to it a little too long. No one who is sane will ever blame you for erring on the side of safety. After all, nobody ever won a medal for losing an eyeball to a firecracker in Toledo.