Officials warn of fireworks injuries and fines ahead of July 4th holiday

Posted at 5:56 PM, Jun 27, 2016

Fireworks and Fourth of July, you don't think of one without the other, but for emergency responders the holiday is a reminder of a long night at work.

“In 2013 the National Fire Protection Association estimated there were 11,400 firework-related injuries treated in the United States,” said Maryland State Fire Marshal Brian Geraci.

To emphasize the damage fireworks can do, Geraci and other officials went through various scenarios at a demonstration on Monday.

A blown up watermelon represented the body part of someone bending over to light a firework. A few fingers were missing after a firecracker went off in a fake hand. And a charred hard-boiled egg showed the permanent damage someone can suffer if a firework is lit near your eye.

“The number of eye injuries have doubled from the year 2012 to 2014,” said Dr. Dean Fiergang, with the Maryland Society of Eye Physicians & Surgeons.

Sparklers, a Fourth of July novelty, are also considered to be harmful. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, some sparklers can reach temperatures of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

“That's nearly ten times hotter than the temperature of burning water and nearly hot enough to melt gold,” said Dr. Fiergang.

“Sparklers accounted for 79 percent of the injuries to children under the age of 5,” Geraci said.

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The Fire Marshal's message isn't anything new, but a reminder to be safe and to keep a watchful eye on kids. Also, a warning that any kind of firework, including hand-held sparklers, are illegal in Baltimore City, Montgomery, and Prince George’s counties. Sparklers are permitted in Ocean City, Harford and Howard counties, but ground-based sparkling devices (GBSDs) are not.

“They're fused from the top and ignited from the top,” said Geraci.

Ground-based sparkling devices are permitted everywhere else in the state. Officials also advise consumers to read the labels. The labels on GBSDs warn that the devices emits showers or sparks.

“A lot of the labels will say it shoots flaming balls, some will say they're explosives, and some will say they're flammable rockets. Those are your key signals there that those fireworks are not legal in the state of Maryland,” Geraci said.

Roman candles and bottle rockets are also illegal in Maryland.

The regulations extinguish any big neighborhood displays but help keep more people safe.

“Celebrating the holiday that deserves celebration rather than dealing with a devastating injury,” said Dr. Kevin Seaman, with the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services System.

Anyone who buys or lights illegal fireworks faces fines of up to $250. The possession of any illegal explosive devices made to look like fireworks, such as quarter-sticks, blockbusters, or M-100s, is a felony and punishable by imprisonment of up to 25 years and fines of up to $250,000.

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