Firework safety demonstrations and tips for Fourth of July

SOUTH BEND, Ind.— Fireworks are on many people’s minds as we head into the week of July 4th.

However, many of the Independence Day celebrations we are used to going to and enjoying have been cancelled due to the coronavirus.

Instead, homeowners are heading out to the stores to buy their own fireworks for their own personal displays.

As homeowners become their own display makers, the Clay Fire Marshal, Dave Cherrone, a veteran with the fire department for decades, hopes to share helpful information to make your holiday as safe as possible.

Cherrone provided statistics from firework related injuries in Saint Joseph County for 2019.

  • Sparklers, firecrackers, and bottle rockets specifically caused 50% of all fireworks injuries in Indiana.
  • More than half of those injuries caused harm to the victims eyes, hands and fingers.
  • The most common cause of these injuries came from a firework malfunction or mishandling from the firework lighter.
  • With the reported injuries from 2019, the oldest person who was harmed was 71-years-old with the youngest being just one-years-old.

As for when you can light your fireworks, here are specifics from local ordinances.

  • In Saint Joseph County fireworks can be only lit starting Monday June 29th through July 9th from 5-11:30 p.m.
  • In Mishawaka and Elkhart specifically you have from 5 p.m. to two hours after sunset.
  • If you are caught outside of that time scope you could be facing a minimum $100 fine for your first offense.

When lighting off fireworks safety is key.

Fire Marshal, Dave Cherrone, recommends:

  • Reading the descriptions and directions for each type of firework so you know how high the fireworks could go or what they are supposed to do in general.
  • Create a flat space to set your fireworks on that has open space above and around it. You can use outdoor tiles or cement blocks to set the fireworks on.
  • Wet the ground where you are planning to light the fireworks.
  • Choose an open space where the sparks will not harm surrounding buildings or homes.
  • Make sure to tether all lanterns to the ground before lighting.
  • Wear personal protection equipment such as eye glasses and ear plugs.
  • When lighting , be sure to have a water hose at the ready to douse the fireworks if they do or do not work.
  • Do not try to relight fireworks that do not fully work.
  • If you have a “dud” be sure to completely douse the firework and leave it alone so if it rekindles no one gets hurt.
  • Once the firework has run its course, be sure to completely douse the firework with water for several seconds and completely leave it to make sure it will not be able to rekindle.

When disposing your fireworks, wait at least 24 hours if not 48 with them doused in water to remove them.

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