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Firefighters urge caution near fireworks on Independence Day

fireworksIndependence Day, unfortunately, is one of the busiest days of the year for firefighters. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), more fires are reported on the Fourth of July than on any other day of the year, and two out of five are fireworks-related incidents.

The Staunton Fire Marshal’s Office urges holiday revelers to use extreme caution around fireworks. “Consumer fireworks are dangerous and the risks to personal safety and the safety of the community are significant,” says Perry Weller, Deputy Fire Marshal.

Fireworks injured 9,600 people in the United States in 2011, according to NFPA. Celebrating the Fourth of July with fireworks, cookouts and community events can quickly turn to disaster if proper precautions are not taken.

Children are especially at risk on July 4. In 2011, 26 percent of victims with fireworks injuries were under 15, says NFPA. Children should never play with fireworks. Even sparklers can reach 1200º Fahrenheit.

“Fireworks that leave the ground are illegal in Staunton. Legal or not, if you decide to ignore these words of caution and set off your own fireworks display, precautions need to be taken, and taken seriously,” Weller said. “While pretty, fireworks can be very, very dangerous.”

Please only call 9-1-1 for potentially life-threatening situations so fire fighters are available to respond quickly when lives are in danger.

“If you are reporting a noise complaint, there is another number to call for that,” said DFM Weller. Dial 332-3842 for all non-life-threatening situations.

For more information about fireworks safety, visit http://www.nfpa.org/fireworks.

To check the legality of fireworks in your state, visit http://www.vafire.com/state_fire_marshal/pdf/Fireworkcategoriesvisual.pdf.

If you insist on setting off your own fireworks, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends taking these precautions. Staunton Fire & Rescue wants you and your family to be safe on the Fourth.

  • ·     Only buy fireworks from a licensed seller (not from someone on the street or from someone’s house)
  • ·     Read and follow the directions on the fireworks before lighting them
  • ·     Have water handy in case of an emergency
  • ·     Only use fireworks in an open, outdoor area
  • ·     Light the fireworks on a hard surface and be cautious of any wind
  • ·     Have a designated shooter who avoids alcohol and does not wear loose clothing
  • ·     Make sure that the designated shooter wears safety goggles and close toed shoes
  • ·     Do not set fireworks off in a public street
  • ·     Do not alter or combine fireworks
  • ·     Aim the firework away from houses, dry leaves, flammable materials and people
  • ·     Never extend a body part over the device
  • ·     Light one firework at a time
  • ·     Never relight a “dud” firework
  • ·     Wait 20 minutes after shooting the firework to approach it, and then soak it in water

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