Press-Republican

July 3, 2013

Safety urged with fireworks

By FELICIA KRIEG
Press-Republican

---- — PLATTSBURGH — Local fire officials caution citizens to refrain from using fireworks, which are illegal to both possess or use by anyone other than a licensed professional.

More fires are reported on the Fourth of July than any of day of the year in the United States, according to the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York.

“Leave the fireworks to the professionals and attend a locally sponsored display in your neighborhood,” President Jim Burns advised in a news release.

SPARKLERS A DANGER

Thousands of people are injured while using consumer fireworks every Fourth of July, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

Even sparklers can be dangerous, according to the Fireman’s Association.

The tip of a sparkler burns at a temperature of more than 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to cause third-degree burns.

“We do get several burns each year from those sparklers,” Plattsburgh City Fire Department Assistant Chief Randy Stone said Tuesday. “A lot of injuries to hands and fingers.

“The remnants that fall on their hands, they’ll continue to burn, and they could get a serious burn from that.”

There have been instances where people were in danger of losing a hand as a result of using sparklers or other firecrackers, Stone said.

“And eyesight is another concern.”

Burns to the face can affect the eyes and cause vision problems, he said.

CITY PRECAUTIONS

Each year, the City of Plattsburgh hires a professional company to execute a safe and fun fireworks display, Stone said.

“As far as the safety of the people that are there, that’s (the set-off location) going to be remote enough and the explosives are going to be sent over the lake, so there’s not going to be any issues,” Stone said.

As a precaution, the City Fire Department sends a fire truck that will be parked near where the fireworks will be set off.

Preparation for the show usually takes between three and four hours, Stone said.

The city prepares a plan that covers how many fireworks will be set off over a period of time, and the equipment used in the show is tested to ensure its safety and efficacy, the assistant fire chief said.

After the show is over, the company’s employees will ensure that any fireworks that did not go off are either set off or put in a safe box for proper disposal, Stone said.

VIEWING TIPS

Here are some Independence Day safety tips from the State Firemen’s Association:

▶ Obey all public-safety barriers set up around the site of a professional fireworks show.

▶ Resist the temptation to get close to the firing site. Often, the best view of a professional display is from a quarter-mile or more away.

▶ Leave pets at home. The loud noise can scare animals and damage their hearing.

▶ Do not pick up or attempt to re-light used fireworks. They may still be active and cause burns.

Email Felicia Krieg:fkrieg@pressrepublican.comTwitter: @FeliciaKrieg

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WHERE TO WATCH

Here's a preview of where you can see professional fireworks:

Essex: Friday from Beggs Point, beginning at dusk. Keene: Saturday at AuSable Club at St. Huberts at dusk.

Lake Placid: Thursday, "Set the Night to Music," over Mirror Lake, 9:30 p.m.

Plattsburgh: Thursday about 9:30 p.m. at Macdonough Monument.

Saranac Lake: Thursday at dark, Lake Flower boat launch.

Schroon Lake: Thursday over the lake about 9:30 p.m.

St. Regis Falls: Thursday at dusk, as part of the Volunteer Fire Department's Field Day.

Ticonderoga: Thursday at 9:30 p.m. or dusk, fireworks at Bicentennial Park.

Westport: Saturday at Ballard Park around 9:30 p.m.