Use fireworks safely!
Jul 03, 2013 | 430 views | 0 0 comments | 58 58 recommendations | email to a friend | print
On this eve of the always spirited Fourth of July holiday, it shouldn’t fall upon our newspaper to deliver the message already known to Cleveland area residents whose sense of hearing is still sound.

Yet, in the interest of safety, we’ll do it anyway.

Fireworks aplenty are already lighting the skies above Bradley County and an even larger wave of explosions awaits the official holiday. For this reason, please allow us — admitted worrywarts when it comes to our community’s and its residents’ well-being — to offer a few reminders.

Borrowing from the theme of an editorial we published on this same day last year, none better understand the potential disaster, property damage or personal injury posed by fireworks than those who have recovered from a past accident or burn. None know it any better than those who have fought to contain a fireworks-related blaze or Cleveland and Bradley County emergency workers who have responded to both — injuries and fires.

Because only hours separate us from the festive celebrations that routinely accompany the Fourth of July holiday — whether at home or in organized neighborhood, church or community events — it is appropriate we offer a few mindful tips that might help to avoid an injury or prevent a 911 call to any of our area’s professional emergency services, whether fire, ambulance or law enforcement.

Again we will borrow some information, as we did last year, from Phantom Fireworks, a private enterprise that distributes Phantom and Wolf Pack brand fireworks. Ours is not an endorsement of their products, but it is an acknowledgement — and a kudo — for the safety practices the corporation is heralding in preholiday literature surrounding Fourth of July celebrations and any such events where fireworks are used.

In a previous mailout, a Phantom executive pulled no punches in issuing the following statement regarding holiday celebrations involving these colorful explosives: “Use Common Sense.”

This precautionary reminder speaks in a volume louder than the fireworks that the company sells.

While common sense to one person might contradict such interpretation by another, the fundamental principal is the same: Fireworks are explosive devices, not toys, that go “boom” by night or day, and their incendiary results can spread more than just colorful majesty and breathtaking beauty.

With that in mind, let us consider six basic fireworks safety rules offered by Phantom, the people who make the fireworks:

1. Never allow children to handle fireworks. Only sober adults should handle and ignite the fireworks.

2. Use fireworks only in clear, open spaces. Ignite fireworks from a hard, flat surface. Keep your audience a safe distance from the launch site and fallout zones.

3. Have a ready source of water close by and easily accessible. A connected water hose is best, but a bucket of water or fire extinguisher will suffice.

4. Do not attempt to relight duds. Unexploded fireworks can be unpredictable and dangerous.

5. Follow local laws regarding the use of fireworks. This is important because their use is illegal in some areas, such as within the city limits of some municipalities (including Cleveland); and in some geographic regions, even entire counties.

6. When igniting fireworks, use a long-neck butane lighter or similar device that provides an appreciative distance between the fuse and the hands that are lighting them.

In past years, community awareness campaigns like those trumpeted by fireworks manufacturers, as well as a slew of U.S. government agencies, have aided in curbing fireworks-related injuries. According to Phantom, such injuries dropped more than 31 percent from 1994 to 2010.

The numbers are encouraging.

But the pain is still just as real when accidents occur that lead to personal injury or property damage, whether a little or a lot.

Enjoy your Fourth of July holiday, but do it safely. And do it wisely.

Follow the rules.

And use common sense.