Local agencies promote Fireworks safety

File photo (MGN)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- While families across the Lowcountry opt to stay at home and put on their own fireworks show, medical and fire officials warn to play it safe.

They're also warning to play by the rules. Fireworks may be banned in your area.

"City Ordinance Sec. 13-191 prohibits the use, sale, possession, discharge of any fireworks within the City of Charleston," said Charleston Fire Marshal Mike Julazadeh. "Smaller items such as sparklers, snap-pops, or similar are not regulated as fireworks materials and are permissible. Fireworks displays must be conducted by a licensed operator with an approved permit."

Memorial Waterfront Park has also been designated a fireworks-free zone and no fireworks, even small ones, should be set off there.

"The best way to enjoy fireworks is to visit public fireworks displays put on by trained professionals," said Mount Pleasant Fire Chief Herb Williams. "From Patriots Point, to Sullivan's Island and the Isle of Palms' fireworks displays, East of the Cooper has plenty to offer on July fourth."

St. Johns Fire and Rescue Battalion Chief James T. Ghi offered up the following facts that you might not know about fireworks.{}

    • Consumer fireworks can travel over 150 feet
    • Sparklers can reach 1200 degrees
    • Fireworks fuses last 3-9 seconds
    • Consumer fireworks when used for public display (i.e. neighborhood display, church or other association display, etc.) require a permit from the SC State Fire Marshal

    If you decide to forgo a professional display and put on a show of your own, fire officials ask that you practice a few simple safety tips.

    • Sparklers can burn and must be used under careful supervision - keep them at arm's length, away from combustibles, and dispose of properly.
    • Never hold, or light, more than one sparkler at a time and keep at least six feet of distance between you and another person.
    • Always wear closed-toe shoes when using sparklers or other fireworks.
    • Never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks. Sparklers considered by many the ideal "safe" firework for the young, burn at very low temperatures and can easily ignite clothing.
    • Never fire or launch items at another individual or structure.
    • Never discharge fireworks in a home or structure.
    • Only light fireworks on a smooth, flat surface away from the house, dry leaves, and flammable materials. Remove dry brush and debris that may easily ignite.
    • Never throw, point or shoot fireworks toward people, pets, buildings, or vehicles. Do not use fireworks in a wooded area.
    • Never ignite fireworks in a container, especially a glass or metal container.
    • Keep unused fireworks away from firing areas.
    • Read and follow all warnings and instructions.
    • Never try to relight fireworks that have not fully functioned. Douse and soak them with water and throw them away.
    • Keep a bucket of water handy in case of a malfunction or fire.
    • Don't experiment with homemade fireworks.

    "Parades, cookouts and fireworks are hallmarks of Independence Day," said Chief Williams. "But improper use of fireworks can turn a joyful celebration into a tragic one. Fireworks account for a large number of preventable fires and injuries and should be used with extreme caution. Older children should be closely supervised, and younger children should not be allowed to play with fireworks."

    Julazadeh said according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) fireworks caused an estimated 17,000 fires, 1,200 of those were structure fires, in 2011. Fireworks can have life-altering effects on consumers and most injuries are preventable. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission:

    • 8,700 consumers were treated in U.S. hospitals for fireworks-related injuries.
    • More than 5,000 of these injuries occurred between June 22, 2012 and July 22, 2012.
    • 41 percent of the injuries sustained in 2012 were to the hands and fingers.
    • 31 percent of the injuries were reported to the head, face, and eyes.
    • Sparklers are often viewed as a harmless item, but they can reach temperatures exceeding 1,000 degree Fahrenheit and accounted for 12 percent of the fireworks injuries in 2012.
    • Sparklers may cause third-degree burns, will retain heat, and can cause fires.

    "Most of the injuries we see as a result of the July Fourth holiday occur in children," said Dr. Fred Mullins, the president of Joseph M. Still burn Center at Trident Medical Center.{} "There are no 'safe' fireworks. We see burns from sparklers each year, just as we see burns from larger fireworks.{} I cannot stress enough that fireworks should only be handled by adults. Let children enjoy the show, not be part of it."