4th of July weekend activities spark rise in fires and injuries
WATERLOO (KWWL) -
Technically, the 4th of July is over, but for many families, the holiday weekend is just getting started. Chances are, over the next few days, you're planning to light up your backyard with some version of fireworks.
"We all want to have fun with fireworks over the 4th of July weekend, now the upcoming weekend. The thing is, there is a lot of danger associated with them and we need to be familiar with that danger," Cedar Falls Fire Rescue Captain Robert Inouye said.
While traditional fireworks are illegal to use in Iowa, it's no secret many people "smuggle" the loudest and brightest they can find from across the border.
"The possession of fireworks is not illegal. They're not breaking the law when they buy the fireworks and bring them back into Iowa. But as soon as you use them, that's illegal," said Waterloo Police Captain Tim Pillack.
If caught, you'll face fines up to $625. What's worse, fireworks can cause serious injury and even death, and it's not just the big ones you have to worry about.
Parents often give their children sparkers, assuming they're safe because they're legal, but what they may not realize is sparklers cause more injuries than any other type of firework.
"They account for almost 30 percent of burns to the hand and 40 percent to the head and face," said Inouye.
The Cedar Falls firefighters offered to demonstrate just how hot a sparkler can get. Using a thermal imaging camera, we see these sparklers reach temperatures of more than 500 degrees. Other studies have shown them to reach as high as 1200 degrees.
"Wood burns at only 500 degrees. Right now, with the near-drought conditions that we have, the fodder for a potential fire exists," said Inouye.
If you should drop them in the grass, or if a spark gets too close, you might have a serious fire on your hands in no time. Just one more reminder that, while fireworks are fun, you need to enjoy them responsibly.
After using sparklers or legal fireworks, the fire department recommends immediately putting them into an empty can, or a can filled with water, to prevent accidents.
If you are concerned about a neighbor lighting off illegal fireworks, you're encouraged to call your local police department.