Bellefontaine Examiner

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Caution, compliance urged with private fireworks shows

In response to a recent report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, multiple state and safety organizations are encouraging Ohioans to avoid personal fireworks altogether this Independence Day.

BC-fireworks-setup

Trained volunteers help set up the firework display during last year’s Fourth of July celebration in Belle Center. Authorities urge anyone buying or lighting fireworks to use caution and know the laws regarding safe firework handling. 9EXAMINER FILE PHOTO | REUBEN MEES)

Prevent Blindness Ohio, the Ohio Department of Commerce’s Division of State Fire Marshal, Child Injury Prevention Alliance, and the Ohio Eye Care Coalition are urging citizens not to use backyard fireworks because of the high fire danger from extremely dry conditions, the risk of personal injury — to young children specifically — and the potential penalty for breaking Ohio’s fireworks law.

According to the annual fireworks report released by the consumer product safety commission, 8,700 people nationwide were treated in emergency departments for fireworks-related injuries in 2012. Of those, 5,200 injuries occurred during the one-month period surrounding the Fourth of July.

About half of all fireworks-related injuries occurred to children and young adults 20 or younger, the report shows, noting that injuries are usually caused by fireworks that explode too early, errant flight path of rockets, debris from aerial fireworks and mishandling of sparklers.

In 2012, fireworks sparked 228 fires in Ohio causing approximately $130,000 in damages.

Bellefontaine Fire Chief J.P. Schulz said that fires caused by fireworks are not common locally, but nevertheless encouraged residents to exercise extreme caution and remain compliant with Ohio law.

Relatively common pyrotechnics such as firecrackers, bottle rockets and Roman candles may be purchased and possessed by anyone over the age of 18, but setting them off in Ohio constitutes a first-degree misdemeanor.

Explosives like these are considered consumer fireworks and anyone purchasing them must sign a waiver agreeing to shoot them off outside the state within 48 hours, Chief Schulz said.

Trick and novelty items such as sparklers and snakes can be legally sold and used by anyone, but still require much care and attention, the fire chief said.

“Sparklers remain quite warm even after they’re burnt out,” he said. “They burn about 1,800 degrees (Fahrenheit) and should only be used under close adult supervision.”

Chief Schulz encouraged groups lighting sparklers to place a bucket outside where the sticks can be disposed.

He concluded by saying that taking in a fireworks show put on by a licensed exhibitor is the best way to go.

“You can enjoy the fireworks without the dangers of trying to do it yourself,” he said. “That’s the best way to do it.”

Locally, that is in Belle Center and Rushsylvania on Thursday, and at Indian Lake on Saturday.

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