Shooting off fireworks has been illegal in New York since 1940. For years, many NYS residents turned into bootleggers and ran over the border to Pennsylvania to get illegal fireworks. In June 2015 Class C fireworks, consumer fireworks intended for use by the general public (mostly sparkling device fireworks), became legal in certain counties in New York State, including Herkimer. In Herkimer County residents 18 and older with valid identification can buy fireworks. Sparkling device fireworks can only be sold only from June 1 to July 5, and again from Dec. 26 to Jan. 2.
Nate Rittenburg of Northern Lights Fireworks (set up next to Fat Cats Seafood in Herkimer) said, “I wish they had a fireworks safety course like they have a hunter safety course.” Nate has a huge selection of Class C fireworks.
Almost half of the country will celebrate independence with fireworks. Close to 60% of all firework injuries occur in the 2 weeks before and after July 4th.
You have decided you are going to honor America’s birth by skipping the professional show, complete with music and choreography and you are going to blast off some rockets in your back yard. Here are a few safety tips for you; first: make sure the fireworks you are using are legal in your area. Only class c fireworks are legal in Herkimer County (or NYS for that matter). Nothing is as painful as injured pride and having the police end your fireworks display will surely injure your pride. Second, read the instructions; most packages actually tell you how to properly ignite the fireworks. Third: avoid loose, long, or baggy clothing as sparks can easily ignite clothes. Fourth: watch out for dry grass and brush. You do not want Smokey Bear busting your party along with the police. Fifth: this next one might seem like a no brainer but, never light fireworks indoors. In fact, you should aim fireworks away from homes. Sixth: always have a fire extinguisher close at hand. Also, keep a bucket of water nearby. Douse any unexploded fireworks with water and do not let children pick up any duds. Duds can explode at any time.
Still not convinced? Almost half, 50%, of fireworks injuries are to the hands. Injuries to the eyes and then head, face, and ears are almost another 35% of fireworks injuries. Over half of all injuries are burn injuries. Here’s what to do about injuries. First, make sure the victim is not on fire. If they are still on fire use the old stop, drop, and roll to extinguish flames. Run the burned area under cold water. This cleans the wound and helps with the “heat” pain. You will want to dry the affected area with a clean dry cloth. Apply a burn spray, salve, or aloe vera to the burn. For second degree burns or more serious fireworks burns dunk burned areas into clean, cold water while calling 911. Dry the wounds gently with clean cloths. Apply burn spray or an inert hydro gel. Use a clean towel, sheet, or gauze to wrap the wound. Keep the burned areas elevated. Wait for the ambulance or move the victim to the hospital.
Still haven’t dissuaded you? Oh, you are going to buy your toddler some sparklers. They aren’t really fireworks. Sparklers burn at over 1800 degrees Fahrenheit. You can melt gold at that temperature. And it is burning at the end of your cute toddler’s short, little, chubby, pinchable arms. One bad stumble and your little tyke is another statistic.
Still haven’t convinced you to leave the fireworks display to the professionals? Think about your pets. Our furry pals who are frightened by thunder or loud cars are also terrified by fireworks. The bangs, pops, and whistles of a backyard fireworks display will traumatize Fido for days.
Enjoy Independence Day, Fourth of July. Just be careful. Make sure that the rocket’s red glare is not actually the red lights of an ambulance. Be safe.