State Fire Marshal McPeak offers fireworks safety tips for July Fourth

June 30, 2011
Dwayne Page

State Fire Marshal and Commerce and Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak wants to remind Tennesseans that, while fireworks are a traditional part of Fourth of July celebrations, many people are seriously injured each year by their careless use.

“We would encourage you to enjoy the holiday at a public display presented by trained professionals,” says McPeak, “where compliance with state-of-the-art fire codes offers a safer way to celebrate our nation’s independence.” July is Fireworks Eye Safety Awareness Month, and the State Fire Marshal’s office is partnering with the Tennessee Academy of Ophthalmology to raise fire safety awareness across the state.

If consumer fireworks are legal where you live and you decide to set them off on your own, be sure to follow these important safety tips:

•Never allow children to handle or ignite fireworks.
•Read and follow all warnings and instructions.
•Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.
•Only light fireworks on a smooth, flat surface away from homes, dry leaves and flammable materials.
•Never try to relight fireworks that have not fully functioned.
•Keep a bucket of water and a garden hose nearby in case of a malfunction or fire.
•Like matches and lighters, sparklers are not toys and cause hundreds of injuries every year. Sparklers burn hot, can reach temperatures as high as 1,200° F, and stay hot long after they’ve burned out. You wouldn’t hand a matchbook or lighter to a child to wave around or play with – so, don’t give a child a sparkler.

Fireworks can be dangerous, causing serious burn and eye injuries. A 2007 law prevents children under 16 from purchasing fireworks; and those who are age 16 or 17 must present a photo ID to purchase them. Also worth noting: A law passed this year that goes into effect July 1 reclassifies sky lanterns as special fireworks exclusively for use by commercial operators, and bans both their sale to and use by private consumers.

For more information on firework safety, visit The Department of Commerce and Insurance works to protect consumers while ensuring fair competition for industries and professionals who do business in Tennessee.

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