Robb Hicken: Fireworks safety is more than their use

For many Americans, this date consists of picnics and get-togethers with family and friends, baseball games, pool parties and, almost always, some type of fireworks display. Whether you plan to attend a local fireworks show or light up a few sparklers of your own, safety should always be top consideration.

Better Business Bureau says keep in mind from whom and what you’re buying. Not all fireworks stands are equal. Clubs, civic groups or youth organizations sponsor some stands as fundraisers.

Follow these tips when buying:


Know what you’re buying

. Make sure you understand what the firework does. Some fireworks that shoot into the air are illegal in some states. Also try to confirm how old the fireworks are. Fireworks may deteriorate over time – that could affect their performance.


Know whom you are buying from

. Fireworks are often sold from temporary locations or roadside stands. Make sure to keep the proof of purchase and try to get manufacturer information. Keep the packaging, as the firework itself explodes leaving no proof of purchase or product label. If something were to malfunction and cause damage or injury you may need to prove who is liable.


Know how to use them

. Make sure you understand how to use the firework to avoid property damage and possible injuries. Remember, all fireworks can be dangerous if misused. Be sure to read and follow instructions. Ask the sales person about the product.


Know your environment

. Be mindful of where you will be using fireworks. In previous years, our region has banned fireworks during drought conditions to avoid fire hazards. While that may not be the case this year, you may encounter restrictions if you are traveling.

Keep in mind that in a crowded subdivision, fireworks with a long flight path pose the risk of hitting neighboring property or people. Also, using airborne fireworks under tree cover could pose risks of unintended ricochets. Unfortunately, fireworks frighten many household pets. If you live in a neighborhood with animals close by you may consider limiting what you buy.


Know who will be using them

. Children should not use some fireworks. Make sure you purchase fireworks that are appropriate for those who will be using them. Check for safety guidelines and always supervise children. If you are having family and friends over to celebrate you may want to consider what liability you are incurring if they are hurt on your property or if they damage a neighboring property. It may be worthwhile to consult your homeowners insurance and you may want to limit whom actually handles the fireworks.

Remember these safety tips when children are involved around fireworks, especially the popular hand-held sparklers.

Always remain standing while using sparklers.

Never hold a child in your arms while using sparklers.

Never hold or light more than one sparkler at a time.

Never throw sparklers.

Sparkler wires and sticks remain hot long after the flame has gone out. Be sure to drop spent sparklers in a bucket of water.

Teach children not to wave sparklers or run while holding them.