Holiday revelers planning to enjoy Independence Day with a dazzling display of fireworks should use them safely.
"Anyone who purchases items at a local and reputable fireworks dealer will be able to shoot the fireworks on their own property," Brazil City Fire Chief Jim Smith told The Brazil Times.
Smith said the department receives several calls annually from local residents concerned about fall out of debris and the loud noise upsetting their pets.
"People need to use common sense and consideration while shooting fireworks in town," he said.
State law allows for fireworks to be discharged throughout the year until 11 p.m., but on holidays like Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day and New Year's Eve fireworks may be discharged from 9 a.m. to midnight.
Other provisions of the law include,
* People 18-years or older, and/or children, may purchase, possess or use any kind of firework only when an adult is present, and
* Fireworks may be used only on the user's property; or on the property of someone who has consented to the use of fireworks; or at a special discharge location.
Smith also offered a few safety tips.
"Keep fireworks properly stored in a safe area away from the discharge location. I know those scenes in movies where fireworks are accidentally exploded are funny, but they are terribly dangerous situations in real life. It's best to keep things safe and have a working fire extinguisher or garden hose close by in case of emergency," Smith said. "But, if there is a fire, the most important thing to do is call 911 for assistance from the local fire department. A small fire can get out of hand quickly."
People caught in violation of the fireworks law, and, if convicted, may face a range of penalties from a Class A misdemeanor, or if involving a case of recklessness or intentional use of fireworks that results in a person's death, up to a Class C felony.
"When handled by professionals, a fireworks show may look easy, but each year they cause injury, death and property damage because of misuse and accidents," Indiana State Fire Marshal Jim Greeson said via press release. "Hoosiers need to remember that restrictions are in place regarding the use of fireworks, as well as the possible penalties for violators. We want to stress the personal responsibility of each fireworks consumer. Obey our laws, follow directions for safe use and apply common sense."
Just the facts
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), in 2006, an estimated 9,200 people across the United States were treated in a hospital emergency room because of injuries sustained while using fireworks.
The Indiana Department of Homeland Security Fire & Building Safety Division suggests following these important safety tips:
* Buy fireworks from a reliable, licensed dealer and store them in a cool, dry place out of the reach of children. Don't allow children to handle, play with, or light any fireworks,
* Obey local laws, including any bans on the use of fireworks because of drought conditions, and never smoke when handling fireworks or attempt to re-light, alter or fix any fireworks. Remember that drinking alcohol and using fireworks do not mix,
* Read and follow all directions and never attempt to alter any fireworks or make homemade fireworks. Designate one person to ignite fireworks, and never aim, point or throw fireworks at another person,
* Use fireworks in a clear, open area outdoors (never indoors) and safety glasses when lighting or being nearby when fireworks are lit. Be cautious of lighting any fireworks during strong wind conditions and light fireworks with prevailing wind blowing away from the spectators, who should be a safe distance from the show,
* Light only one firework item at a time and keep a fire extinguisher, water supply, hose or bucket of water nearby, and
* One-third of the people injured by fireworks were under the age of 15 and the risk of fireworks injury was two-and-a-half times as high for children ages 10-14 than for the general population.
Sparklers, fountains, and novelties alone accounted for 28 percent of the emergency room fireworks injuries reported in 2006. For more information on fireworks or the IDHS Building Safety Division, log on to the IDHS website at www.in.gov/dhs.