St. Mary Parish Sheriff Mark Hebert reminds that sale, use of fireworks illegal here

MORGAN CITY, La. -- As the July 4th holiday approaches, people across the country are gearing up to celebrate the nation’s independence with family and friends.

Sheriff Mark Hebert said both the sale and use of fireworks are illegal in St. Mary Parish. The sheriff said his department typically gets several calls each year complaining about fireworks. Officers can arrest a person for violating the ordinance and either release the offender on a summons or take him or her to jail, Hebert said.

However, fireworks sales and use are legal in neighboring St. Martin Parish.

With that in mind, the State Fire Marshal’s office and Teche Regional Medical Center have released safety tips for families enjoying pyrotechnics for the July 4 holiday.

Teche Regional Medical Center CEO Butch Frazier said fireworks, firecrackers, sparklers and rockets that often appear around July 4 can be dangerous, causing severe eye injuries, burns, loss of limbs and death. According to the National Fire Protection Association, more than 60 percent of all fireworks injuries occur around July 4.

The Office of the State Fire Marshal is encouraging families to attend professional, public fireworks displays as a safe way to honor tradition.

The U.S. Consumer Product and Safety Commission reported that more than 5,000 people were treated for fireworks-related injuries in hospital emergency rooms in July 2012. More than 70 percent of injuries were to the eyes, head, face, ears, hands and fingers. Six people died as a result of fireworks-related injuries, Frazier said.

“The Fourth of July is a wonderful opportunity to spend time with family and friends celebrating our country, its history and our service men and women,” Frazier said. “Unfortunately, emergency rooms across the country see a spike in patients due to fireworks injuries every July. We urge everyone in our community to take precautions to ensure their safety and the safety of their children this year.”

Teche Regional Medical Center urges residents to refrain from using consumer fireworks at home. About 98 percent of fireworks injuries in 2012 occurred at private celebrations, Frazier said.

For those wishing to shoot their own fireworks, items from state-permitted retail stands are recommended. The inspection of these stands will be conducted during the selling season to assure compliance with safety standards, Fire Marshal Butch Browning said.

“We encourage families to only purchase their consumer fireworks from retail stands that have been inspected and permitted by this office. We would also encourage anyone to contact this office if they see or notice any suspicious or illegal selling of consumer fireworks or any other type of fireworks,” Browning said.

Safe fireworks use suggestions by Browning and Frazer include:

—Always read and follow the label directions carefully.

—Always have a garden hose or water bucket nearby for medical emergencies and/or to douse spent or misfired fireworks.

—Adults should always supervise fireworks activity.

—Fireworks should be placed on a hard, smooth surface prior to ignition. Never light fireworks in your hand.

—Light one firework at a time, and move away quickly after lighting.

—Never point or throw fireworks at people, pets, cars or buildings.

—Keep fireworks away from small children.

—Do not alter or make your own fireworks.

—After displays, never pick up fireworks that may be left over.

—Avoid fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this often is a signal that the fireworks are intended for professional displays.

—Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse.

—Never shoot off fireworks in metal or glass containers.

—Never attempt to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.

—After fireworks complete their burning, douse the fireworks with water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.

Fireworks that have been ignited and fail to immediately explode or discharge can cause injury, as they may still be active. Children should always tell an adult if they find fireworks rather than picking up smoking or charred fireworks themselves.

“When things go wrong, they go wrong very fast, and often with disastrous consequences,” Browning said.

Wooded areas, homes and automobiles have become engulfed in flames because of fireworks. Firework-related fires have typically caused at least $27 million in property loss nationally in recent years, according to Browning.

A substantial portion of the property loss is due to fireworks typically involving bottle rockets or other fireworks such as rockets/aerial devices. Rockets can land on rooftops or wedge within certain structures and still retain enough heat to cause a fire, Browning said.

St. Mary Now & Franklin Banner-Tribune

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