Monday, June 27, 2011

New, More Powerful Fireworks, Longer Season Could Mean Trouble

(Salt Lake, UT) – From 1999-2009, there were 512 emergency room visits in Utah for injuries due to fireworks. The majority of the injuries occurred among children ages 5-14. As the summer holidays approach, the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) and Office of the State Fire Marshal are urging Utahns to use extreme caution when using fireworks.

“Fireworks are beautiful and add excitement and fun to holiday celebrations. But sometimes we don’t realize just how dangerous they can be,” said Jenny Johnson, Media Coordinator with the UDOH Violence and Injury Prevention Program. “For example, the tip of a sparkler can reach temperatures over 1,200 degrees, hot enough to cause severe third-degree burns,” Johnson said.

Changes made to state fireworks laws during the 2011 Utah legislative session now make it legal to use fireworks between June 26 and July 26. The law previously allowed fireworks to only be ignited three days before, on the day of, and three days following July 4 and July 24.

In addition, a new type of aerial firework is now legal to use. The devices, also known as “multiple tube,” “repeater,” or “cake” fireworks, often look like miniature professional displays and can shoot as high as 150 feet. Still not allowed are firecrackers, M-80s, cherry bombs, bottle rockets, Roman candles, single or reloadable mortars, and ground salutes.

“The changes to Utah’s fireworks laws are significant,” said Brent Halladay, Utah State Fire Marshal. “We’re asking for everyone’s help over the next several weeks by following the law and keeping your families and neighborhoods safe.”

Utahns can play it safe by following these tips:
    Never allow children to handle, play with, or light fireworks. You must be at least 16 years of age to handle or light fireworks. Adults should always supervise children when fireworks are nearby.
    Always keep water handy. Have a bucket of water or a running hose nearby while using fireworks. Soak used fireworks in water before throwing them away.
    Be very careful with sparklers. Though seemingly safe, sparklers cause thousands of injuries across the U.S. every year. Children under the age of 12 should use sparklers only under very close supervision by an adult. Children should be taught to hold a sparkler at arm’s length from their body and to not wave, throw, or run while holding them. And never hold more than one sparkler at one time.
    Keep fireworks at an adequate distance from obstacles. Fireworks should always point away from people, homes, trees, and other things that could catch fire. Aerial fireworks should be kept at least 30 feet away from these structures.
    Never relight a "dud" firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water. Never let children pick up pieces of fireworks after an event. Some may still be ignited and can explode at any time.
    Only use fireworks as they’re intended. Never attempt to alter or combine them.
    Only use fireworks outdoors.
    Don't hold fireworks in your hand or have any part of your body over them while lighting. Wear some sort of eye protection, and avoid carrying fireworks in your pocket — the friction could set them off.
    Think about your pet. Animals have sensitive ears and can be extremely frightened or stressed on the Fourth of July. Keep pets indoors to reduce the risk that they'll run loose or get injured.

“The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to let the professionals handle them and attend a public display,” said Halladay. 

To learn more about fireworks safety, visit 

Media Contact:
Jenny Johnson
Violence & Injury Prevention Program
(o) 801-538-9416 (m) 801-298-1569
Brent Halladay
Utah State Fire Marshal
(o) 801-284-6350 (m) 801-232-2398

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