Celebrate 4th of July Safely: Attend Professional Fireworks Displays

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Provided by Prince William Fire & Rescue

This was one of several displays in Manassas's "Celebrate America!" fireworks show Friday night in historic downtown Manassas.

Leading up to the Fourth of July and throughout the summer, people purchase fireworks for their personal entertainment making a special holiday more memorable. Rarely do we consider these pleasing effects as being harmful, much less deadly. Yet, fireworks are one of the biggest fire dangers to life and property. There are more reported fires on the 4th of July than on any other day of the year in which fireworks account for two out of every five fires.

According to the American Pyrotechnics Association (APA), 47 states, plus the District of Columbia, allow some or all types of consumer fireworks while Delaware, Massachusetts, and New Jersey have banned all consumer fireworks. In 2015, U.S. fireworks consumption totaled 285.3 million pounds. Of that figure, consumers utilized 260.7 million pounds and 24.6 million pounds for professional fireworks displays.

In 2014, U.S. hospital emergency departments treated an estimated 10,500 fireworks-related injuries, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Approximately 7,000 (67%), of those injuries, occurred between June 20th – July 20th. Prince William County permits the use of some fireworks; however, restrictions apply and for good reason. No matter how breathtaking fireworks are or how easy they appear to use, they are potential fire starters. Fire and Rescue Chief Kevin McGee encourages residents to leave fireworks demonstrations to trained professionals; check your local newspaper or website for a list of venues providing professional fireworks displays.

Safety Tips – Should you choose to use consumer fireworks, follow these simple safety tips to keep you and your loved ones safe:

  • Only purchase fireworks from Prince William County vendors displaying an issued permit for the sale of fireworks.
  • Any use of commercial fireworks, in residential developments, should be reported.
  • 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.
  • Do Not ignite fireworks on decks, balconies, or patios.
  • Keep a bucket of water handy in case sparks start a fire.
  • Do Not allow children to ignite fireworks.
  • Do Not wear loose clothing when using fireworks.
  • 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.
  • Never experiment or make your own fireworks.
  • Never carry fireworks in your pocket.
  • Let used fireworks set outside overnight before collecting for disposal.
  • Do Not place used fireworks in combustible trash containers inside or next to structures.
  • Pets may be frightened by the noise and lights of fireworks; keep pets inside or away from the area when in use.

For additional information on fireworks safety, visit the National Fire Protection Association at nfpa.org.

To view the list of 2016 permissible fireworks and locations of authorized fireworks stands, visit the Fire Marshal’s Office at pwcgov.org/fire, and click on Fireworks.

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