How to stay safe this Fourth

Jul 3, 2012

A confluence of Heat Advisories in 34 Michigan counties, drought-like conditions in the southern half of the state, and relaxed consumer firework legislation could make this year's Independence Day celebrations more dangerous than usual. 

The AP reports that two Lansing-area communities have postponed tomorrow's annual firework shows because of warm and dry weather that's settled in across the state.

Michigan officials are urging people to use caution with fireworks and outdoor fires as some areas face what's described as dangerously dry conditions.

Here are some tips from The National Council on Fireworks Safety about how you can stay safe this holiday.

If you're setting off your own fireworks:

  • Always read and follow label directions.
  • Have an adult present.
  • Buy from reliable sellers.
  • Use outdoors only.
  • Always have water handy (a garden hose and a bucket).
  • Light only one firework at a time.
  • Never re-light a "dud" firework (wait 15 to 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water).
  • Never give fireworks to small children.
  • If necessary, store fireworks in a cool, dry place.
  • Dispose of fireworks properly by soaking them in water and then disposing of them in your trash can.
  • Never throw or point fireworks at other people.
  • Never carry fireworks in your pocket.
  • Never shoot fireworks in metal or glass containers.
  • The shooter should always wear eye protection and never have any part of the body over the firework.

The council urges consumers to stay away from illegal explosives. Commonly known as "M-80s," "M-100s," "blockbusters" or "quarterpounders," these explosives have been federally banned since 1966 and are usually unlabeled. If you are aware of anyone selling such devices, contact your local police department.

Homemade fireworks, says the council, are also dangerous. They say never attempt to make your own devices, as mixing and loading chemical powders can kill or seriously injure you.

If you're attending a public fireworks show, the council recommends:

Obey all ushers or monitors, and respect the safety barriers set up to allow the trained operator room to safely do his job. The best view of the fireworks is from a quarter of a mile or more away.

If a firework component falls to the ground without exploding, don't touch these fireworks. Immediately contact the local fire or police department.

Leave pets at home if you are going to a fireworks show. They have very sensitive ears and the booms and bangs associated with a fireworks display can be quite uncomfortable

Leave your own fireworks at home. Sparklers, fountains and other items that many states allow for use by private individuals are not appropriate to use when a large crowd is present.

Sit back, relax and enjoy the show!

If you're confused about the new fireworks laws, Michigan.gov has provided consumers with an infographic on legal fireworks here.

-Elaine Ezekiel, Michigan Radio Newsroom