The crackle of sparklers and thunderous boom of fireworks overhead are hallmarks of Independence Day celebrations, but these fiery displays can have unintended consequences. According to the National Fire Protection Association, fireworks account for two out of five fires reported on Independence Day in a typical year. The majority of fires associated with fireworks are outdoor grass fires, brush fires, dumpster fires and other types of natural vegetation fires that can spread quickly, especially in areas that are experiencing dry conditions or drought. And, they can have major impacts: fires started by fireworks in 2011 resulted in an estimated 32 million dollars in property damage.
Tip: It only takes one spark to start a fire. As many as 90 percent of wildfires in the United States are caused by humans. Keep these tips in mind to prevent fires and enjoy a safe holiday:
- Leave it to the pros. The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to visit a public fireworks display in your community that is managed by professionals.
- Check local laws and observe fireworks bans. Fireworks are banned on federal public lands, including National Forests and National Parks/Monuments, and laws about fireworks use vary from state to state. With more than 45 percent of the country experiencing abnormally dry or drought conditions, some communities have complete bans on fireworks. Always follow rules and instructions issued by your local officials.
- For the fireworks that are allowed where you live, light them safely. A sparkler burns at 1200 degrees Fahrenheit. For comparison, water boils at 212 degrees, wood burns at 575 degrees and glass melts at 900 degrees! Keep fireworks out of the hands of young children. Light fireworks one at a time and never try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Never light fireworks near your home, dry leaves or grass, or other flammable materials. Keep a bucket of water or garden hose nearby to douse the fireworks when you are done. Keep a fire extinguisher handy, too.