June is Fireworks Safety Month. During the month of June and continuing through the latter part of July, fireworks-related injuries peak. In 2011, there were an estimated 9,600 injuries treated in U.S. emergency facilities. Of those injuries, 65% (6,200) occurred during June 17th – July 17th. A major component of total fireworks-related injuries was children, age 15 and younger, accounting for approximately 26 % of estimated injuries.
Although the fireworks injury rate has declined as the result of public information and public education, more needs to be done. In an attempt to reduce the number of fireworks-related injuries and deaths, the Fire Marshal’s Office, a division within the Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue, has initiated a Fireworks Enforcement Campaign to stop possession and use of illegal fireworks. The campaign’s slogan, Illegal Fireworks, “If You Light It, We’ll Write It!” Leave Fireworks to the Professionals is a means by which the Department is able to educate the community about the dangers of illegal fireworks while informing them about Prince William’s zero tolerance for possession and use of illegal fireworks. This year as in the past, Fire Marshals will be teaming up with Police for their annual fireworks safety initiative and deploying personnel throughout the County in an effort to prevent injury and fires due to illegal or unsafe use of fireworks. In addition, the team will write summons to individuals who possess and/or light illegal fireworks and will confiscate any and all illegal fireworks found in their possession. In Prince William County, the discharge of illegal fireworks is a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by fines up to $2,500.00 and or up to one year in jail.
Safety experts agree that the best way to protect your loved-ones from fireworks-related injuries or worse is to not use fireworks. Numerous professional organizations often provide fireworks displays for public enjoyment during the holiday and throughout the year. Check your local newspaper or web site for listings of fireworks displays in your area.
Should you choose to use legal fireworks, the Fire Marshal’s Office would like to help you celebrate safely by suggesting the following safety tips:
- Fireworks should only be used under adult supervision.
- Fireworks should only be used outdoors on a driveway, sidewalk or other fire-resistant surface. Remember, fires are caused by careless handling of fireworks in areas exposed to sparks or live fireworks.
- Never ignite fireworks during high winds where flying sparks can start a fire.
- Keep a bucket of water handy in case sparks start a fire.
- Be sure children around fireworks know to stop, drop and roll if their clothing catches on fire.
- Deposit sparklers in a metal container as they may be stepped on while hot or lost in the grass and stepped on while playing.
- Never aim or throw fireworks at another person.
- Never try to re-ignite fireworks that malfunction or fail to go off.
- Do not wear loose clothing when using fireworks.
- Never experiment or make your own fireworks.
- Never carry fireworks in your pocket.
For more information about selecting and using legal fireworks, or if you would like to safely dispose of illegal fireworks, contact the Fire Marshal’s Office at 703-792-6360, or visit our website. Turning in illegal fireworks will not result in any fines or summons, and no questions will be asked.