Fireworks safety tips from St. John's fire department

Rebekah Ward
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A colourful fireworks display. — File photo by Rhonda Hayward

In recent years, an increasing number of St. John’s residents have opted to set off fireworks at home to celebrate Canada Day, according to the St. John’s Regional Fire Department.

 In response, the fire department developed a program geared at ensuring that fireworks users deploy them safely.

“ It’s an education program, understand what you’re selling, understand what you’re buying and understand the dangers of it,” Fire Insp. Gary Power said.

As part of this program, which started up in time for the 2013 New Year celebrations, the fire department has issued the following guidelines for those citizens who choose to take light shows into their own hands:

 -Only purchase from authorized fireworks dealers;

-Fireworks are for outdoor use only;

-Clearly read the instructions in advance and in daylight and be clear about what you are doing;

-Choose a clear, open area away from obstructions such as buildings, vehicles, overhead obstructions, and dry brush and grass. A minimum clear area of 30m by 30m for aerial family fireworks such as Roman Candles, and 20m by 20m for fountains and other ground-based items is recommended;

-Never use aerial fireworks in windy conditions. When lighting fireworks, take into consideration wind direction and wind velocity and make sure the prevailing wind is blowing away from spectators. Do not fire if wind is strong;

-Wear a protective hat, gloves and have eye protection, such as goggles;

-Always have water handy (a hose or bucket);

-Only use fireworks as intended. Don’t try to alter them or combine them;

-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;

-Bury (do not pile) aerial fireworks such as Roman Candles, to half its length in the ground or in a large pail or box filled with earth or sand;

-Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Have a designated shooter;

-Keep children away from fireworks, even sparklers, because they burn at such high temperatures and can easily ignite clothing;

-Always use care and caution when lighting fireworks. Never place any part of your body or head over the firework; never handhold 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;

-Never attempt to relight fireworks that have misfired (duds). Wait 30 minutes and then place them in a bucket of water;

-Wait 30 minutes after the display has finished. Check the firing area for duds, clean up all debris, and check it again in the morning;

-Venders are required to have staff certified through St. John’s Regional Fire Department (SJRFD) prior to selling fireworks and have proper documentation (waivers/brochures) on site;

-Purchasers are required to sign a waiver outlining the regulations for the proper use of fireworks.

Organizations: Fire Department, SJRFD

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