Fire department advises caution when using family fireworks

Staff ~ The Telegram
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The St. John's Regional Fire Department is reminding the public to be careful when using family fireworks to celebrate over the holidays.
Capt. Mike Maher, fire prevention officer with the St. John's Regional Fire Department, says that during times of celebration family fireworks can provide a spectacular visual effect to be enjoyed by all if used properly.
"It is important to remember that family fireworks are powerful, pyrotechnic devices that must be used with care and caution," Maher warned.
"These devices have the potential to inflict serious harm or injury when used carelessly."
To alleviate the concern, the St. John's Regional Fire Department is offering the following safety tips for those who partake in family fireworks:
• Only purchase from authorized fireworks dealers;
• Use fireworks outdoors only and choose a clear and open area away from buildings, vehicles, overhead obstructions, and dry brush/grass. A minimum clear area of 30 metres by 30 metres for aerial family fireworks, such as Roman candles, and 20 metres by 20 metres for fountains and other ground-based items is recommended;
• Check wind direction and wind speed. Fireworks should be lit with the prevailing wind blowing away from spectators. Don't set off aerial fireworks in strong winds;
• Have water nearby. Keep a garden hose or bucket of water close by in case of a malfunction or fire;
• Carefully read all the instructions for each firework item ahead of time;
• Use ground-based fireworks on a hard surface. Always light ground-based fireworks (fountains, mines) on a hard, flat and level surface to ensure stability of the item. Grass is typically not suitable. Lay down wood/plywood;
• For aerial fireworks (Roman candles), bury (do not pile) the device to half its length in the ground or in a large pail or box filled with earth or sand;
• Keep all spectators at least 20 metres away.
• Use proper eye protection and wear proper clothing. Regular prescription glasses or sunglasses provide little or no protection and may actually contribute to an injury. Wear non-flammable clothing such as cotton. Never wear synthetic fibres (nylon, polyester) when firing;
• Never let children handle, play with or fire fireworks under any circumstances. Even sparklers, which are considered by many as safe fireworks for children, burn at very high temperatures and can easily ignite clothing;
• When lighting, never put any part of your body or head over the fireworks. Never hand hold them or insert them into other means of containment such as pipes, and never point or throw them at people. During the show, store the unused fireworks away from the firing area and keep them covered to prevent stray sparks from prematurely setting them off;
• Duds or misfires - never attempt to relight fireworks that have misfired (duds). Wait 30 minutes and then place them in a bucket of water;
• Clean-up after the show. Wait 30 minutes after the display has finished. Check the firing area for duds, clean up all debris, and check it again the next morning.

Organizations: Regional Fire Department

Geographic location: St. John's

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