fireworks safety

Published 8:55 pm Friday, December 28, 2007

With the new year approaching children and adults alike will be lighting fireworks in celebration, during that time safety should be key.

County and city emergency personnel ask residents who decide to handle fireworks this season to use them with caution and care.

Pearl River County Emergency Management Director Bobby Strahan said that children who handle fireworks should be supervised by a responsible adult.

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Before lighting any firework it’s a good idea to inspect the surrounding area for dry debris that could possibly become ignited by a firework, such as pinestraw. Dry debris, such as pinestraw, can become especially dangerous if it is on a roof posing a fire hazard to the home, Strahan said.

“If those roofs aren’t cleaned off then that stuff can catch fire pretty easily,” Strahan said.

Older children should refrain from conducting dangerous activities, such as shooting fireworks at each other or creating sparkler bombs.

“These things are dangerous, they can damage eyes and fingers,” Strahan said.

Picayune Fire Chief Keith Brown said that homemade fire works are especially dangerous, and illegal. State law lists them as a felony since all fireworks are required to be classified by the Interstate Commerce Commission in order to meet their specifications. A number of dangers also come with attempting to create homemade fireworks.

“Number one is killing yourself, that’s before you even get into the legalities of it,” Brown said.

If convicted the crime, homemade fireworks can bring penalties of a $1,000 fine and or a year in jail, Brown said. Purchasing legal fireworks from a reputable retailer is recommended, he said.

After lighting a fuse Strahan suggests leaving the firework alone. Even if it appears as though the fuse has gone out, the inside of the fuse could stay light and if the firework is picked up it could explode in a person’s hand. He suggests taking the same precaution if the fire work appears to be a dud.

“I wouldn’t attempt to relight one… too many things can happen. Just leave it alone and don’t even mess with it,” Strahan said.

While typically larger fireworks are more dangerous, even small fireworks should not be taken lightly, Strahan said. Powerful fireworks are especially dangerous such as cherry bombs and M80’s. Roman candles are also dangerous since they spew flaming balls that can set clothing and flammable debris on fire.

Strahan and Brown said that if a firework is the cause of another person’s house catching fire the adult will be liable for any damages.

For safety’s sake Strahan suggests keeping a water hose or a bucket of water nearby in case a wayward firework catches something on fire. If sources of water are close by then a small fire could possibly be contained before it gets out of control. During daylight hours flames can be harder to detect, so extra caution is urged during those hours.

“Have fun with them, but be very very careful,” Strahan said.

Brown said a city ordinance mandates legal possession of fireworks fall between the days of June 15, to July 5 and between Dec. 5, to Jan. 2. The City of Picayune has a noise ordinance that states that no loud noise should disturb other residents between the hours of 8 p.m. and 6 a.m., Brown said.

County ordinance states that loud noises should not bother residents between the hours of 9 p.m. and 7 a.m., however there is a clause where residents can request a permit to shoot lawful fireworks or noisemakers during an official holiday.