The July Fourth holiday period typically presents hazards of fire and burn injuries. The most common involve cooking grills, wooden decks, and use of fireworks or sparklers.
Ted Pisciotta, assistant Shelton chief for fire prevention, said everyone must seriously consider the tragic consequences that a sudden mishap involving fireworks or a hot sparkler could cause. Physical injuries can last a lifetime.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) points out that fireworks can have a life-altering impact on people, including severe eye injuries, loss of limbs, and even death.
Almost 9,000 treated at hospitals
In a recent report, CPSC estimated 8,700 consumers were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments for fireworks-related injuries last year. About 1,000 reported injuries involved sparklers and bottle rockets — fireworks that are frequently and incorrectly considered safe for young children.
This is in addition to fires resulting in property damage that are ignited by fireworks.
During the holiday weekend, the Shelton Fire Prevention Bureau encourages everyone to remember:
— Treat all fireworks as being suitable only for use by trained professionals. Attend public firework displays that are pre-arranged under controlled conditions. Stay back at least 500 feet from professional fireworks displays.
Sparklers can reach 1,200 degrees
— Avoid use of sparklers, which can reach 1,200 degrees, according to the National Fire Protection Association. That is more than five times hotter than it takes to boil water — and certainly hot enough to burn skin or ignite a fire. Consider also that wood burns at 575 degrees and glass melts at 900 degrees.
— Children should never hold, or be in close proximity to, a sparkler. State law requires buyers and users to be 16 years of age or older. But it should be understood that these devices may be dangerous to individuals of any age.
The CPSC reports that sparklers, fountains and novelties alone accounted for 25% of all emergency room fireworks injuries. Sadly, 30% of people injured by fireworks were under age 15.
Keep grills away from structures
— Locate grills and any propane tanks a safe distance from buildings, wooden decks and other combustibles. Never store propane indoors.
— Only use charcoal starter fluids designed for grills and do not add fluid after coals have been lit.
Smoking on wooden decks
— Avoid smoking on a wood deck. If you permit smoking, use suitable disposal containers or ashtrays. Never use paper or plastic cups, napkins, etc.
— Avoid use of candles, open flame insect repellents, or decorative torches. If used, place in safe locations away from anything that can burn or conditions where such items could be accidentally knocked over.
Check smoke alarms
— Finally, as in every season, have working smoke alarms installed on every level of your home, test them monthly, and keep them clean and equipped with fresh batteries at all times.
Make sure everyone in the household knows when and how to call 9-1-1 for help. And remember to practice your home escape plan.
For more fire safety information, the public can call the Shelton Fire Prevention Bureau at 203-924-1555 or go to “Public Safety” at www.cityofshelton.org.