Many want to celebrate the 4th of July with their biggest and loudest effort ever, but Assistant State Fire Marshal Greg Carrell says there should be a limit when it comes to fireworks.
Carrell says a troubling trend, which has already cost someone a hand this year and put another woman in a medically induced coma, is when people try to re-manufacture fireworks into something they think is bigger and better.
“Fireworks are manufactured to be one way and one way only, as directed. When you start getting creative with that, injuries and damage can result,” Carrell said.
But he says another common denominator in accidents is drinking alcohol. Unfortunately two of the traditional ways to mark the 4th don’t mix well.
“If you’re going to have a celebration that includes alcohol, we certainly would say, you know, get someone to be the ‘designated shooter,’” Carrell said.
That’s doubly important when children will be shooting fireworks, too. Carrell says you need to have someone in the right state of mind supervising kids.
“Make sure that you don’t have children just out there playing, shooting; because I don’t think they understand the full potential of damage or injury that can occur when using fireworks,” Carrell said.
He says you also need to make sure you’re in the right setting to avoid causing significant damage with your fireworks.
“The ground can be wet and the grass still be dry, so it doesn’t take much to get that sort of fire going. The other thing to look at is the roof of a house, a car, any of those sorts of things that you really shouldn’t be shooting fireworks around. You think about something as simple as a bottle rocket, it travels several hundred feet into the air. So you really need to have a clear area around you when you’re using that type of device,” Carrell said.
Carrell says many of the fatal accidents he’s seen over the years have occurred when people try to shoot off commercial-grade fireworks on their own.
“People have been shooting commercial grade fireworks and have done something as incomprehensible as sticking their head over the tube to see why it hasn’t gone off and catching a shell in the face. We certainly want to make sure that commercial grade fireworks are kept just at the commercial shoots. They don’t belong in a home display,” Carrell said
Carrell says you’re required to have a license to shoot commercial grade fireworks in Missouri, which requires a training to obtain. He says it really should be left up to the experts, and points out you can simply get a lawn chair and watch one of the many professional displays across the state for free.
“There are certain ways to shoot them off; there are minimum tube lengths to get the proper lift up into the air. You start short-changing on those things, even the type of material used to make the tubes is a certain type so it doesn’t shatter, fracture and send shrapnel everywhere. Some of them, you can’t tell if they’re right side up or upside down. There’s just a whole myriad of things that go into making someone a commercial fireworks shooter,” Carrell said.
He says to prevent a fireworks accident; it all boils down to having respect for what you’re using.