By Jim Smith
State Fire Marshal
Fourth of July is quickly approaching. Many communities have canceled their fireworks shows due to COVID-19. However, that will not stop many people from purchasing illegal, aerial fireworks: Roman candles, bottle rockets, and a myriad of other large and loud pyrotechnics to be shot into the night sky. There are actually small groups of neighbors pooling their money to go across state lines to purchase these fireworks in an effort to create their own neighborhood show.
This activity causes great concern for the State Fire Marshal Division, EMS workers, and medical centers. Retail-purchased pyrotechnics (manufactured in mass production lines) have a higher propensity to be crafted with little (if any) quality control or safety oversight. As a result, fuses that should burn for a long time seem to flash immediately into the firework, causing it to explode prematurely – while the handler is still too close. Or a fuse doesn’t light all the way to the firework and gives the handler a false sense of security, so they walk up to the firework just in time for it to explode. And retail-manufactured fireworks have unstable bases, making them more likely to tip over during the ignition process with disastrous result.
As the Fourth of July rolls around, please be aware of the safety precautions laid out for Minnesota-legal fireworks.
- Use only Minnesota-legal fireworks. Remember: If it shoots into the air, it’s illegal in Minnesota.
- Watch your children at all times – especially when they are holding sparklers.
- Place spent sparkler sticks into a bucket of water or sand.
- Keep children with sparklers at least 6 feet apart.
- Alcohol and fireworks are a dangerous combination.
The Fourth of July holiday is a great time of the year. Picnics, family gatherings, and a lot of fun in the sun. Please do not do anything that can turn a wonderful evening get-together into a horrible, life-changing event. Be safe out there!