Fireworks Safety – – Leave it to the Professionals

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Provided by the Prince William County Department of Fire & Rescue

Leading up to the Fourth of July and throughout the summer, many consumers purchase fireworks for their personal entertainment. Fireworks add that special something during a holiday celebration; their beautiful and breathtaking bursts of light and colors make a memorable holiday even more memorable. Rarely do we consider these pleasing effects as harmful even deadly; yet, fireworks are one of the biggest fire dangers to us as well as our property. In a typical year, there are more U.S. fires reported on Independence Day than on any other day, accounting for 2 out 5 fires, more than any other cause of fires.

In 2011, according to National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)(, fireworks caused an estimated:

 17,800 reported fires

 1,200 total structure fires

 400 vehicle fires

 16,300 outside and other fires

 8 reported deaths

 40 injuries

 $32 million in property damage

Within that same time period, 90% (9 out of 10) emergency room fireworks injuries involved Federal regulated fireworks permitted for use by consumers, i.e. sparklers, fountains, novelties, etc.

In 2012, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 8,700 people for fireworks-related injuries of which 55% were to the extremities and 31% were head injuries. Of those injured, young people between the ages of 15 – 24 and under the age of 10 were at the highest risk for fireworks-related injuries.

June is Fireworks Safety Month, beginning June 1st thru July 4th. The Fire Marshals Office, a division of the Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue (, would like to help you prepare and celebrate Fourth of July safely by suggesting the following safety tips if you have purchased, consider purchasing and/or using legal fireworks:

 Fireworks should only be used under adult supervision.

 Fireworks should only be used outdoors on a driveway, sidewalk or other fire-resistant surface.

o 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 there 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.

These are just a few tips to keep you, your loved ones and your property safe when using consumer fireworks. Although the County permits the use of some fireworks, restrictions are applied for good reason. No matter how breathtaking fireworks are or how easy they appear to use, they are potential fire starters.

Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue ( suggest leaving fireworks demonstrations to trained professionals; check your local newspaper or website for a list of venues providing fireworks. If you choose to purchase fireworks, buy legal fireworks from vendors located within the county and Northern Virginia.

Fireworks from other states may be illegal and use is punishable by fines and/or incarceration if not voluntarily surrendered (Chapter 9, Article V of the Prince William County Code of Ordinances). For a list of permissible fireworks you can purchase, visit the Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue at, click on Fire Marshals Office, click on Fireworks.


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