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July Fourth fireworks safety

The exciting tradition of celebrating our nation’s birthday on the 4th of July with outdoor fun, including fireworks, is an old and happy one.
The exciting tradition of celebrating our nation’s birthday on the 4th of July with outdoor fun, including fireworks, is an old and happy one. Whether your Independence Day plans include a large, professionally designed fireworks display or your family setting off a small amount of fireworks, the tradition continues. As we celebrate this year, your Alabama State Fire Marshal’s Office, (SFMO) a division of the Alabama Department of Insurance, reminds you that fireworks can be safe and fun as long as we all remember a few simple safety rules and obey the law. Unusually dry weather and an abundance of fuel in the form of still-leftover storm debris require extra caution when celebrating with fireworks.

State Fire Marshal, Edward Paulk offers the following rules for the safe enjoyment of fireworks:

1. Use common sense and obey the law:
• Do not discharge fireworks within 600 feet of any enclosed building.
• Do not shoot fireworks into or from a motor vehicle.
• Do not shoot fireworks toward people.

Alabama fireworks laws make each of the above activities illegal.

2. Children below the age of 16 must be supervised by an adult when purchasing or using fireworks. Children below the age of 14 should not handle fireworks. Fireworks can be a source of great family entertainment, but they burn very hot.
Fireworks are not intended to be handled by children.

3. Use fireworks in a clear, open area with an ample water supply and fire extinguisher on hand. Use fireworks only outdoors in a clear area away from flammables and combustibles. Here in the South, combustibles may include dry grass and leaves as well as paper, other fireworks or anything that will easily catch fire and burn. In dry times, have a water source handy and wet down the area where you intend to shoot your fireworks.

4. Use fireworks on a hard, flat surface. Always light fireworks on a hard flat and level surface to insure stability. Grass will not support items nor provide the stability needed to shoot fireworks in a safe manner.

5. Use care in lighting fireworks and keep clear of the fireworks. Always light fireworks with a punk (a slow burning lighting device available from fireworks dealers), a flare or an extended butane lighting device, enabling you to keep a safe distance from the firework as possible during the lighting process. Never hold lighted firework items in your hand and never look into a tube to check on a firework item. When lighting fireworks at night, use a flashlight to illuminate the fuse and make the proper ignition possible. Light the firework item and get away quickly. Respect the fireworks because if improperly used, they are dangerous.


6. Do not use malfunctioning or “dud” items. Never attempt to re-light, alter or fix any firework item that does not ignite the first time. Let the item stand at least five minutes and then immerse the item in water.

7. Use care in handling and storing fireworks. Never carry fireworks in your pocket or on your person. Keep fireworks away from open flames, heat or spark producing appliances. Fireworks should be stored in a cool dry place. Never store fireworks in your bedroom or near exits.

8. Wear safe clothing and safety glasses. Wear only clothing that is flame resistant and will not melt. Safety glasses are especially recommended for those individuals who light the fireworks.

9. Do not use alcohol while enjoying fireworks. Please do not consume alcohol while handling fireworks. If you are impaired in any way when you use fireworks, you increase the possibilities of misuse and injury to yourself and others.

10. Pay attention to the weather conditions. In addition to dry weather increasing the possibility of fire, we must also consider wind when using fireworks as well. A shift in the wind or an increase in wind speed can adversely affect fireworks. Any change in the weather that increases the danger from our fireworks must be considered and the use of fireworks must stop if conditions worsen to the point that fireworks cannot safely be enjoyed.

11. Be sure your fireworks are legal and purchased from a reputable dealer inspected and permitted by your Alabama State Fire Marshal’s office.

Fire Marshal Paulk also pointed out that each year there are numerous injuries in Alabama related to the use of fireworks, and fatalities have occurred In addition, damage and destruction to residences, businesses, timber, crops, cars and even tractors have resulted from careless or illegal use of fireworks.
For more information on the Alabama State Fire Marshal’s Office, you may visit online at www.firemarshal.alabama.gov, or phone 334-241-4166. In addition the State Fire Marshal’s Office offers the Alabama Arson Hotline report suspected arson or to contribute tips or leads for investigators working current fire investigations. The Alabama Arson Hotline Number is 1-800-654-0775.
The men and women of the State Fire Marshal’s Office hope these simple tips will ensure and enhance your safe and enjoyable Independence Day!
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