The 4th of July is almost here and the Laconia Fire Department wants to remind people to be very careful when celebrating our Independence Day, especially if you are going to use fireworks. Only permissible fireworks are allowed in Laconia, unless you are a licensed fireworks operator.
Fireworks are very dangerous. Do not get complacent when using these explosives. According to the National Fire Protection Association, in 2010, fireworks caused an estimated 15,500 fires nationwide. Those fires resulted in an estimated 60 civilian injuries and $36 million dollars in direct property damage. In 2010, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 8,800 people for fireworks related injuries. 52 percent of the firework injuries were burns, while 21 percent were contusions and lacerations. 39 percent of the people injured by fireworks were under the age of 15. Fountains, sparklers and novelties accounted for 43 percent of the injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms. Two years ago in Laconia we had an apartment house get destroyed by fire because of misuse of sparklers.
The best way to celebrate the holiday is to go to a public fireworks display. Check the newspapers to see what communities are providing fireworks displays. Laconia provides fireworks shows on July 3 at Weirs beach and July 4 at Opechee Park.
If you do plan on using permissible fireworks you must be over 21 years of age and you must own the property or have the owner's permission. Permissible fireworks are allowed in Laconia. They may not be allowed in other communities. Keep children away from the fireworks especially while lighting them. Store the fireworks in a safe location and keep them secured. You should have a bucket of water readily available to put out any fires that may get started, and to protect yourself. Watch were the fireworks land and monitor the area for at least 30 minutes after you are done. Fireworks can land on roofs and in gutters and easily start a fire.
The State Fire Marshal gives this advice:
"Be Prepared" before lighting fireworks.
• Purchase only New Hampshire Permissible Fireworks, available at licensed retail stores throughout the state.
• Purchase only the quantity that you will use.
• Permissible fireworks can only be displayed on property that you own, or have written permission from the landowner.
• Have a water hose or fire extinguisher nearby in case of an unanticipated fire.
• Create a clear level surface to display your permissible fireworks away from things that can burn, or easily ignite.
• Call 911 immediately in the event of a fire or medical emergency, don't wait!
"Be Safe" when lighting fireworks.
• Adults 21 years of age or older should be the only possessing and displaying permissible fireworks.
• Always wear eye protection.
• Always read and follow the safety directions provided on each firework device or package.
• Light only one device at a time and move away quickly.
• Keep all spectators at a safe distance.
• Display permissible fireworks only outdoors, away from anything that can burn, or easily ignite.
• Be considerate of your neighbors, family pets and the environment. You could be liable for damages to another's property.
• "Be responsible" when finished.
• Clean up all debris when you are finished.
• Devices that do not fire or discharge once they are lit are very dangerous; if a firework device does not fire or discharge, keep away for at least 15 minutes or more, then ensure that it has been filled with water, or placed in a bucket of water.
• Always make sure that unused fireworks, matches and lighters are secured and out of the reach of children.
Chief Ken Erickson
Laconia Fire Department