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WV State Fire Marshal stresses fireworks safety; warns of illegal devices

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CHARLESTON, WV -

With the Independence Day holiday weekend upon us, the West Virginia State Fire Marshal’s Office is warning residents of the Mountain State about the dangers of fireworks, and the illegal status of some of the devices.

“Any fireworks-type materials are dangerous,” said Anthony Carrico, acting State Fire Marshal. “Even sparklers can burn hot enough to melt gold and cause third degree burns. Basically, there is no such thing as safe fireworks.”

The office also reminds residents that violation of state fireworks law is a citable offense.

The following list of facts and safety tips is provided by the National Fire Protection Association, through the WV State Fire Marshal:

  • “Sane and safe” fireworks are neither. Fireworks and sparklers are designed to explode or throw off showers of hot sparks. Temperatures may exceed 1200 degrees Fahrenheit, hot enough to melt some metals.
  • Seven out of 100 persons injured require hospitalization.
  • Most common injuries are to the hands (34 percent), eyes (17 percent) and face (12 percent).
  • The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend an outdoor public display put on by specially trained pyrotechnic professionals.
  • If you’re going to use sparklers and novelties (the only items permitted by West Virginia law), use with extreme caution.
  • Light all items outside in a clear area away from houses, away from yard debris such as grass, brush leaves and away from flammable materials such as gasoline cans and newspapers.
  • Always keep up a bucket of water nearby for emergencies and for pouring on items that fail to ignite.
  • Never touch unexploded fireworks.
  • Never try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Douse and soak them with water, them properly dispose of them.
  • Always make sure other people are out of range of lighting fireworks. Also be aware that pets have sensitive ears and can be extremely frightened or stressed due to exploding fireworks. Keep pets indoors to reduce risk of injury.
  • Never ignite fireworks in a container, especially in a glass or metal container.
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry and secure place.
  • Permissible under law in West Virginia are items called “Novelties and Sparklers” — smoke devices that produce white or colored smoke, snakes, glow worms, trick noisemakers which include party poppers, string poppers, snappers, drop pops and wire sparklers, as well as other sparkling devices which emit showers of sparks and sometimes a whistling or crackling effect when burning.
  • By state law, no novelties, sparklers and other devices are to be sold to anyone under the age of 16.
  • In West Virginia, the most dangerous type of fireworks prohibited by law include large reloadable shells, festival balls or shots, cherry bombs, serial bombs (skyrockets, Roman candles), daygo bombs, M-80 salutes and firecrackers. Also banned are mail-order kits designed to build fireworks.

For more information about fireworks safety, visit nfpa.org, usfa.fema.gov or cpsc.gov