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Firefighters urge people to take firework safety, precautions seriously

(Michelle Tessier, KSL, File)

Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

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SALT LAKE CITY – Most of us will be hearing the sounds and seeing the colorful bursts of fireworks in our neighborhoods.

It’s now legal to use fireworks in Utah through July 6. For those of you putting on the show, here are some reminders and safety tips from firefighters.

The first fireworks safety tip from Unified Fire Authority is to go enjoy a professional show. But if you do like to use legal fireworks, Unified Fire Authority firefighter Ryan Love showed KSL TV the safest way to prepare.

“The first step is always having fun,” said Love. “The first important step is to have everything in place and to be mindful of what you’re doing, as well.”

The fireworks show does not start with the strike of a match. As Love demonstrated, it starts with safety preparation.

Keep a full bucket of water nearby for emergencies and for dunking the spent fireworks. Love uses bricks to secure the aerial fireworks and keep them in place. That keeps the wind from blowing the firework over or a person accidentally kicking over the firework.

“Always read the directions, right?” Love said.

That’s also a good idea, even if you think it’s obvious how to light the firework. Read the packaging to get an idea for how far that firework is going to shoot.

“You just want to make sure that you’re lighting them out correctly so that way nobody gets hurt,” said Love.

Take a good look around to assess where everyone is.

“Just making sure that all of the kids and everybody is at a safe distance away from the firing,” said Love.

Thirty feet is usually a safe distance.

A long-stem lighter will make it easier for you to get the job done without burning your hands. Eye protection, even your sunglasses, are a good idea.

After you fire off the fireworks, dunk them in your bucket of water. Don’t make the most common mistake leading to fires on the Fourth.

“You can see that it is still smoking here a little bit,” Love said holding up a spent aerial firework. “There are still a few embers that are hot here. A lot of people throw these right in the trashcan, and most of our calls on the Fourth of July are trash fires because of that.”

For parents: keep track of the fireworks you have not used and put them in a safe place, away from children.

“Make sure that you always maintain accountability of where your fireworks are, so that way your children don’t have access to them,” the firefighter said.

Aerial fireworks are the riskiest. However, somebody is more likely to get burned by a sparkler, which burns twice as hot as wood.

“They’re cute, they’re colorful, we’ve all played with them,” said Love. “Unfortunately, people don’t understand that one-fourth of the hospital visits on the Fourth of July are due to sparklers, children getting burned with sparklers.”

So be alert whenever anyone has a lit sparkler in their hand.

Don’t underestimate smoke bombs, either. Last year, smoke bombs illegally lit in September started a wildfire in Herriman that destroyed two homes and injured five people.

Firefighters said chances are good that accidental fires will flare up this week. If you see a fire, call 911 promptly before it gets out of control, so that firefighters can attack the fire as soon as possible.

Jed Boal


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