Simple, sensible fireworks safety tips

Crowd watching fireworks and celebrating new year(Getty Images/iStockphoto/nd3000)

Fireworks stands dot the landscape this week, except in places where they’re illegal, including Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland.

Fiery, noisy, colorful consumer fireworks are a ubiquitous part of the Independence Day celebration, but the D.C. fire marshal is reminding everybody to exercise great care when handling and lighting fireworks.

“Don’t buy or use illegal fireworks,” warned D.C. Fire Marshal Tony Falwell, who said that two children have suffered serious blast injuries so far this summer season playing with illegal fireworks.

The city licenses 35 fireworks stands selling legal pyrotechnics, which can also pose a safety risk, if not properly handled.

“We want all fireworks to be lit by adults, responsible adults,” Falwell said. “Don’t let young people, children — use fireworks or light fireworks … sparklers do cause burn injuries in children.”

Fireworks should be lit at a safe distance from people and it’s prudent to have a bucket of water nearby.

“You want to light these fireworks on a flat, solid surface that’s about 50 feet away from people and structures,” said Falwell.

And never touch a firework that you may think is a dud.

“Most importantly, never try to relight a firework that has failed to light,” Falwell said.

Capt. Russ Davies with the Anne Arundel County Fire Department also chimed in, suggesting that people should avoid using their own fireworks, including sparklers.

He said that in Anne Arundel County around the Fourth last year, two children experienced serious burns from sparklers, and a man suffered “catastrophic hand injuries” from a mishap with a type of illegal firework known as a mortar.

“There’s other alternatives out there other than the use of fireworks,” Davies said. He suggests giving kids glow sticks instead of sparklers.

For more information on approved fireworks and licensed fireworks stands, go to D.C. Fire and EMS Department’s website and Facebook page.

WTOP’s John Aaron contributed to this report. 

Dick Uliano

Whether anchoring the news inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center or reporting from the scene in Maryland, Virginia or the District, Dick Uliano is always looking for the stories that really impact people's lives.

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