Officials advise: Leave fireworks to the pros
As the Fourth of July weekend unfolds, Cape Coral residents may consider purchasing fireworks to add a little boom to their holiday celebrations.
Local officials want to remind people that fireworks are illegal within the city limits.
“Do not set them off,” Connie Barron, the city’s spokeswoman, said.
“Leave the fireworks displays to the professionals and go to Red, White & Boom,” she said.
According to Lorraine Carli, spokeswoman for the National Fire Protection Association, more fires are routinely reported on the Fourth of July than any other day of the year. Fireworks typically account for half of those fires.
“Big fire risk in a very short period of time makes it a very challenging and demanding situation for the nation’s fire service,” she said.
In 2009, fireworks caused an estimated 18,000 reported fires, including 1,300 structure fires, 400 vehicle fires and 16,300 outside and other fires. There were no deaths as a result of the fires, but there was an estimated 30 civilian injuries and $38 million in direct property damage.
The NFPA holds a strong position against consumer fireworks.
“There is no safe way to use consumer fireworks,” Carli said, adding that the organization recommends that citizens attend a professional fireworks show instead. “That’s the safest way to enjoy the Fourth of July holiday.”
In 2009, there were 8,800 fireworks-related injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms across the United States. Males accounted for 73 percent of the injuries, and two out of every five victims were under the age of 15.
The highest rates of injuries were among children ages 10 to 14.
Phantom Fireworks in Fort Myers has a table set up in the store for customers with tips on how to safely and properly use the types of fireworks it sells.
Jared Aponte, the store manager, said staffers conduct demonstrations, cover the do’s and don’ts and can provide pamphlets for people to take home.
“We gear ourselves toward safety,” he said. “We don’t want anything to happen to our consumers. We want them to be safe.”
For those who may decide to use the types of devices available for sale locally, Aponte had a couple of suggestions.
First, use an extended lighter to light fuses and consider protective gear, like goggles.
Always have a fire extinguisher or a ready water supply available, such as a hose or buckets of water. The shooting site should be concrete or asphalt.
“You need to have the product on a hard level surface,” he said, adding that sand and grass is a no. “There’s too much force coming out of the product.”
Avoid wooded and grassy areas. If shooting over a grassy area, like a lawn, is unavoidable, try watering down the area prior to shooting off fireworks.
Light only one firework at a time. When lighting a firework, keep your head and body away from the top of the product.
“Never try to relight, or even attempt to relight, a firework,” Aponte said.
Do not use alcohol while using fireworks.
Do not use fireworks as weapons — do not aim them at others or shoot them at others.
Never let children handle or play with fireworks.
“Use common sense,” Aponte said. “Common sense is a big thing.”
According to the NFPA, 53 percent of fireworks injuries in 2009 were to extremities — hand or finger, 32 percent; leg, 12 percent; and arm, shoulder or wrist, 9 percent.
Most of the rest were to parts of the head, like the eye.