Concord, NH: State Fire Marshal Bill Degnan and Chief Chris Christopoulos, President of the NH Association of Fire Chiefs urge anyone planning to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday with home fireworks to use extreme caution to avoid injury and particularly to keep fireworks out of the hands of children. "Fireworks are explosive devices," Degnan said. "They can cause serious injury if misused or handled carelessly. They should only be handled by responsible adults."
For many Americans, fireworks have become a way of life during the holidays - beautifully colored sparks flying through the air in concert with loud rumbling explosions. As exciting as this may seem, people often forget that they are playing with explosives: dangerous chemicals and combustibles that can destroy property and injure people. These deceptively simple objects explode, throw hot sparks through the air, and can often reach temperatures hotter than 1,200 degrees.
Degnan noted that New Hampshire State Law requires:
- You must be 21 or older to purchase permissible fireworks.
- You must be 21 or older to display permissible fireworks.
- You must be in a community that allows the use of permissible fireworks. Check with your local fire officials.
- You must be on your own private property or have written permission of the property owner.
- That only fireworks that are listed as permissible by the State of New Hampshire may be sold and possessed in communities that allow their possession and use. Firecrackers, bottle rockets and reloadable type shells are illegal in New Hampshire to have in your possession and/or use.
Nationally, fireworks have caused millions of dollars in property loss, thousands of injuries and deaths.
Degnan stressed that fireworks should only be used in a safe, open area, far away from buildings. He offered the following safety tips for people who want to use permissible fireworks in communities where they are legal:
- Never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks.
- Read and follow all warnings and instructions.
- Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.
- Only light fireworks on a smooth, flat surface away from the house, dry leaves or flammable materials.
- Never try to relight fireworks that have not fully functioned.
- Keep a bucket of water handy in case of a malfunction or fire.
Chief Christopoulos particularly urges parents not to put sparklers in the hands of small children. Many children have suffered eye and other burn injuries for these devices. "The wires of sparklers get very hot and small pieces of burning metal can fly off and hit a child in the eye, on the skin or onto their clothing, which could ignite," he said.
Both Fire Marshal Degnan and Chief Christopoulos recommend contacting your local fire department for planning safe use of any firework and suggest celebrating the Fourth of July holiday by leaving fireworks displays to professionals.
Have a safe Independence Day celebration.