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Fires prompt urgency for caution with fireworks

July 2, 2012

With several fires breaking out in the area over the past few days, and one still burning in the National Forest at Halsey, local fire chiefs are urging citizens to use extreme caution this week when lighting off fireworks. In fact, some communities across the state have already banned fireworks this year, and several others are considering imposing a ban.

Though the area fires were all started by lightning strikes, they do serve as a reminder of how dangerously dry and susceptible to fire the land is. Many local fire crews have spent the better part of the past three days fighting fires, and with the high heat predicted for this week and lack of rainfall they are very concerned that it's not over yet.

A June 21, 2012 release of a Fireworks Report which explores fire and injury dangers related to consumer fireworks showed an estimated 15,500 reported fires were started by fireworks in 2010 alone, and 8,600 fireworks-related injuries were treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms. There are more fires on a typical Fourth of July than any other day of the year. Fireworks account for more than any other cause of fires on the Fourth. The fires caused by fireworks in 2010 resulted in eight reported deaths, 60 civilian injuries, and $36 million in direct property damage.

We can do our part to reduce these staggering statistics. Here are some Fireworks Safety Tips offered by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

- Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
- Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.
- Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don't realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees - hot enough to melt some metals.
- Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
- Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
- Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
- Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
- Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
- Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
- After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
- Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.

On behalf of the Nebraska State Fire Marshal's Office, remember that much of our state is experiencing extremely dry weather with great potential for fires. We encourage you to consider attending professional fireworks displays, remember that it is illegal to bring any firework into Nebraska from another state, think about the impact of fireworks on pets and livestock, practice all fireworks safety tips, and have a safe and enjoyable fireworks season.

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