Michael McCain, owner of Insane McCain Fireworks, has been in the business of selling fireworks for 30 years. He enjoys the fact that individuals and families want to celebrate certain holidays by purchasing his fireworks, but he also understands and encourages the importance of staying safe while lighting the explosive products.
“Follow the directions. Every item has a warning label, every single item does. If you just follow those directions, everything will be fine,” McCain said. “Use good sense and be smart about it. Read the directions, and don’t hold it in your hand. Do it in an open area. ... Let an adult light them. Some people like to mix alcohol and fireworks, and that’s not a good mixture in my opinion. So, be sober and let an adult light them.”
According to a 2012 U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission study, hands and fingers are the most injured body parts of a person, with heads, faces and ears receiving the second most fireworks-related injuries. However, McCain said fireworks have progressed over the years, causing less accidents, injuries and deaths.
“Fireworks have come a long way. As I remember back when I was a kid, they seemed to be more dangerous. But now with the way the world has moved more toward safety and tightening up the ship, I guess you would say, the parts are more true,” McCain said. “They shoot true. You can know about what height and distance they’re going to shoot, as long as you stick with some of the good brands. There are some cheap brands still out there, but TNT and World Class are your best brands, in my opinion.”
Not only do individuals need to worry about the safety of themselves and their family and friends, but they also need to take into consideration accidentally igniting fires in wooded or grassy areas.
“The No. 1 warning is following directions. That’s the common sense approach to all fireworks is following directions. Of course, it’s not legal to shoot them in the city even though it’s done anyway,” said Capt. Alan Clark of the Jasper Fire Department. “If there is somewhere that they’re going to be shooting them, just make sure it’s an area cleaned out, not a grassy area that could catch on fire. Have something available if something goes wrong, like a fire extinguisher to put it out quickly just to stop it from getting any larger.”
Clark advises individuals to take part in a fireworks show operated by professionals, adding that “some of the most harmless ones are the most dangerous, like sparklers ... those burn around 1,000 degrees. They’re very dangerous.”
If you plan on purchasing fireworks and setting up your own personal show, celebrate safely by following these simple guidelines posted by the CPSC and the National Council on Fireworks Safety:
•Always read and follow label directions.
•Have an adult present; never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks.
•Use outdoors only.
•Always have water handy (a garden hose and a bucket) or a fire extinguisher.
•Never experiment or make your own fireworks.
•Light only one firework at a time, then move back quickly.
•Never re-light a “dud” firework (wait 15 to 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water) or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
•Never give fireworks to small children.
•If necessary, store fireworks in a cool, dry place.
•Dispose of fireworks properly by soaking them in water and then disposing of them.
•Never throw or point fireworks at other people.
•Never carry fireworks in your pocket.
•Never shoot fireworks in metal or glass containers.
•The shooter should always wear eye protection and never have any part of the body over the firework.
•Stay away from illegal explosives and buy from reliable sellers.