TRENTON – In advance of upcoming holiday celebrations, Division of Fire Safety Director and New Jersey State Fire Marshal Richard J. Mikutsky is cautioning residents about the use of fireworks during Memorial Day, Juneteenth and Fourth of July, which increase the risk of fireworks injury and property damage.
“As we turn the corner with the pandemic, we are anxiously looking forward to being able to celebrate the upcoming holidays with one another,” stated Lt. Gov. Sheila Y. Oliver, who serves as commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs. “We want to remind you that if you decide to use fireworks during this time to please follow these guidelines to keep you and your family safe.”
“After years of restrictions, our state now allows non-aerial and novelty fireworks,” stated Mikutsky. “Part of that permission includes handheld sparklers. After ignition, the core temperature of a sparkler can generate a temperature of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. In the hands of small children unaware of the risk, the consequences can cause serious harm.”
According to a release, burn hazards are also associated with other permitted ground-based novelty fireworks, such as cylindrical sparklers, cones and spinning sparklers.”
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) tracks fireworks injuries and reports that there were an estimated 10,000 fireworks-related, emergency department-treated injuries in 2019, with 73% occurring during the month surrounding the Fourth of July (June 21-July 21).
During that period, sparklers were the number one cause of injuries, accounting for an estimated 900 injuries; 66% of the injuries were to males. Nearly half of the estimated injuries were to individuals younger than 20 years of age. In fact, half of reported sparkler injuries involved children younger than 5.
According to national CPSC statistics, at least 12 people died from fireworks-related incidents in 2019. Several deaths occurred when victims held and ignited fireworks. In one of the reported cases, in 2019, a 21-year-old male was critically injured when lighting mortar-type fireworks on the rooftop of an apartment complex. The firework ignited and exploded while the victim was holding it over his head. The victim was taken to the hospital, where he died five days later.
“As the growing number of vaccinated persons begins to ease outdoor restrictions made necessary by the pandemic, there may be a pent-up desire to celebrate during the holiday period. We simply want to note CPSC statistics and urge everyone to instead take advantage of the return, as conditions permit, of traditional local municipal public fireworks displays,” stated Mikutsky.
For those who opt to use permitted fireworks, the following guidelines apply:
· Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks, including sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit—hot enough to melt some metals.
· Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy, in case of fire or other mishap.
· Light fireworks one at a time, and then move away quickly.
· Never try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them with water and throw them away.
· Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Move to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
· Never point or throw fireworks (including sparklers) at anyone.
· After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding the device to prevent a trash fire.
Small, Non-Aerial Fireworks Safety
· Only buy from reputable places.
· Don’t buy if packaging is damaged or appears tampered with.
· Don’t try and “fix” broken or “dud” fireworks.
· While non-aerial fireworks may be legal, they can still burn you. Temperatures of one sparkler can reach about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and are not toys for children.
· Never use indoors.
· Always have water handy and follow manufacturer’s instructions.
· Never relight a “dud” firework, and wait 20 minutes to dispose of it properly.
Small, Non-Aerial Fireworks Safe Disposal
· Completely soak used or “dud” fireworks in a bucket of water and allow them to soak overnight.
· Double-wrap soaked fireworks in plastic wrap or a plastic bag to help keep them from drying out.
· Place wrapped bags in regular household garbage.
The Division of Fire Safety serves as the central fire service agency in the state. The division is responsible for the development and enforcement of the state uniform fire code, as well as for implementing community risk reduction and firefighter training programs.
stay in the know