Rules and safety tips for Fourth of July

Each July 4th, thousands of people, most often children and teens, are injured while using consumer fireworks. Despite the dangers of fireworks, few people understand the associated risks – devastating burns, other injuries, fires and even death.

Fireworks are allowed to be discharged in Cherokee.

According to city ordinance:

• Fireworks may only be discharged from 9 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. on July 2, 3 and 4.

• No fireworks shall be discharged by any person under the age of 16 unless such person is being directly supervised by their parent or guardian.

• The chief of the fire department or any police officer shall seize, take, remove or cause to be removed any fireworks, at the expense of the owner if any violations occur.

According to state statute:

• “Fireworks” are any composition or device for the purpose of producing a visible or an audible effect by combustion, explosion, deflagration or detonation.

• Since July 5, 1981 the sale, gift, distribution or use of skyrockets with sticks as defined by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission is hereby prohibited within the state of Oklahoma.

This prohibition shall include, but is not limited to, explosive devices commonly known as “bottlerockets” or “stickrockets.”

Distribution, gift or sale from Oklahoma to a person outside the state of Oklahoma shall not be considered occurring within the state of Oklahoma.

• It is unlawful to sell, offer for sale, distribute, possess, ignite or otherwise use aerial luminaries, commonly known as “sky lanterns”, “Hawaii lanterns”, “Kongming Lanterns”, “Chinese lanterns”, “sky candles”, “fire balloons” or “flying luminaries.” Igniting aerial luminaries in violation of this act shall be punishable by a fine not to exceed $100.

Fireworks by the numbers

Fireworks start an average of 18,500 fires per year, including 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires and 16,900 outside and other fires.

These fires caused an average of three deaths, 40 civilian injuries, and an average of $43 million in direct property damage. 

In 2015, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 11,900 people for fireworks related injuries; 51 percent of those injuries were to the extremities and 41 percent were to the head.

Children younger than 15 years of age accounted for one-quarter (26 percent) of the estimated 2015 injuries. These injury estimates were obtained or derived from the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s 2015 Fireworks Annual Report by Yongling Tu.

Consumer fireworks caused nearly 9,000 injuries in 2012

Fireworks may represent a hallmark of July 4th celebrations, but consumer fireworks are extremely dangerous, causing thousands of injuries and fires each year.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) 2012 Fireworks Annual Report, U.S. hospital emergency rooms saw an estimated 8,700 people for fireworks-related injuries in 2012. In the month around July 4th, almost three out of five (57 percent) of the fireworks injuries were burns, while almost one-fifth (18 percent) were contusions or lacerations.

Sparklers, fountains and novelties alone accounted for one-quarter (25 percent) of the emergency room fireworks injuries.

Young people pay a particularly high price for fireworks. During the same July period, the risk of injury was highest among those ages 15-24, followed by children under 10. Three out of ten people (30 percent) injured by fireworks were under the age of 15. Males accounted for three-quarters (74 percent) of the injuries overall.

On Independence Day in a typical year, fireworks account for two out of five of all reported U.S. fires, more than any other cause of fire. In 2011, fireworks caused an estimated 17,800 reported fires resulting in 40 civilian injuries and $32 million in direct property damage. The vast majority of injuries occur without a fire starting.

“Knowing the harm fireworks inflict each year, particularly on young people, we urge everyone to leave fireworks to the professionals, who are trained to safely put on spectacular displays. It is by far the safest way to enjoy them,” said Carli.

A big part of Fourth of July celebrations, of course, are family cookouts. NFPA has released the following grill and outdoor safety tips.

The warm balmy nights, food cooking on the grill and friends and family spending quality time together in the backyard or around the pool create wonderful memories that last a lifetime. But, hosting outdoor events also means there’s an increased risk of home fires.

Fortunately, following some simple safety tips and guidelines can help ensure you and your guests stay safe. Consider the following when you host your next outdoor event:

• Have an adult present at all times when a portable fireplace is burning.

• Use sturdy candle holders that won’t tip over easily.

• Keep anything that can burn, as well as children and pets, at least three feet away from open flames.

• Use battery-operated flameless candles and solar-powered patio (tiki) torches in place of an open flame. Flameless candles come in all colors, shapes and sizes, and many are scented. Flameless candles look and feel like the real ones, and add a beautiful soft glow to any outdoor event.

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