Sparklers are the number one cause for emergency room visits during the 4th of July holiday celebrations and most of those injuries can be prevented by using simple firework safety steps.
James Merrill, owner of Merrill Family Holidays, said they try to explain to every parent the potential danger of a mishandled sparkler.
“A sparkler burns at about 1500 degrees. When it goes out, it’s still somewhere between 500-600 degrees for 5-10 seconds,” Merrill explained. “Parents hand their toddler a sparkler because they think it’s safe and the kid grabs it and runs into somebody or they grab it themselves because it’s not glowing anymore.”
Merrill said having a bucket of water ready to immediately dump in the finished sparkler is the safest way to enjoy them. There are also bamboo sparklers available that burn out, instead of heating up the metal stick. The National Council on Firework Safety recommends only children over the age of 12 should be allowed to handle sparklers of any type.
A bucket of water or a garden hose nearby is the number one safety tip Merrill shared.
“It’s just so easy to hose them down,” he said. Fireworks like Zipper Cakes are especially prone to relight, so dousing every firework in water ensures there will be no surprises.
To avoid the frightening moment of having a firework tip over, Merrill reminds people to block them.
“All blocking means is you take a piece of wood or brick and you push it up against the firework so it can’t tip over,” he said. Certain styles are more likely to tip over, including the taller fireworks and those with a smaller base.
Larger aerial fireworks require the handler to be at least 16 years old, and it’s against the law to adjust or tinker with the firework in any way.
“It’s considered bomb-making,” said Merrill. “Every time you’re monkeying with a firework you’re breaking the law.” Merrill said kids find YouTube videos and want to try to adjust the firework, but that “falls into a different category of no-no,” he said.
“I just want everybody to have fun,” Merrill said. “Who as a kid doesn’t remember a snake or a smoke bomb going off? It’s like apple pie, it’s part of our culture. I’m all about having fun and doing it right.”
Merrill said don’t forget the dogs this 4th of July.
“With dogs, they can get really scared and run off and get lost, or some will even run up to the firework and carry it away,” he explained. “Keep them inside and let your neighbors know if you plan on lighting fireworks so they can put their dogs away, too.”
According to Utah’s Fire Marshall website, “Ignition of aerial fireworks shall be a minimum of 30 feet from any structure or vertical obstruction,” including your audience. Aerial fireworks that are legal in Utah include multi-shot aerial cakes up to 500 grams and multi-shot aerial cakes with up to a 3-inch diameter shell. Fireworks that are illegal in Utah include bottle rockets, roman candles, firecrackers, and more. See firemarshal.utah.gov for a complete list.
Fireworks can be lit July 2- July 5, between the hours of 11 a.m. and 11 p.m. except on July 4, where hours are extended to midnight. There currently are no fireworks restrictions in any Cache County communities.
Merrill Family Holidays is teaching a firework safety class Monday, July 1 at 6 p.m. at their firework stand at 729 S. Main St. in Logan.