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Fireworks can be dangerous and some are illegal in CT. Here’s how to stay safe

A man watches fireworks after a baseball game between the Kansas City Royals and the Los Angeles Angels Friday, June 16, 2023, in Kansas City, Mo. The Angels won 3-0. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Charlie Riedel
The DHS recommends standing at least 35-feet from ground-based fireworks and 150-feet from aerial fireworks show.

As Independence Day approaches, so does the looming threat of fires and potential injuries from fireworks.

Aerial fireworks are not allowed by law in Connecticut for use by anyone without a professional license. Sparklers and fountains can only be bought and used by people over the age of 16.

Pedro Muñiz, Connecticut State Trooper First Class, said the state sees an increase in physical injuries around July Fourth from mishandled fireworks.

“Injuries vary from burns to serious injuries, [like] losing a finger,” he said.

In a statement, the Wilton Fire Department said sparklers can burn at 1,200 degrees and can cause serious injuries. A report released by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Thursday estimated that over 10,000 fireworks-related injuries occurred in 2022. Of those injuries, 73% were reported during the month surrounding July 4.

But it’s not just live fireworks that can cause harm. The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology division (DHS) advises that people take extra care when handling “duds,” fireworks that don’t go off.

In order to prevent injury from duds suddenly going off while handled, let them sit for five to 10 minutes before approaching. Both spent and unused fireworks should be soaked in water for a few hours before being discarded.

Muñiz affirmed the DHS recommendations and said people should also take care when deciding a location to set off fireworks.

“[Keep fireworks] away from dry brush, trees, homes, [and] propane tanks – because people will be grilling as well. We want to keep the fireworks away from anything that's going to be flammable,” Muniz said. “If you're gonna use a fountain or sparkler, make sure you try to do it over pavement or cement so that the grass around does not catch on fire as well.”

The DHS recommends that spectators stand at least 35 feet away from ground-based fireworks, and around 150 feet away from aerial fireworks shows. Children should not participate in setting off ground-based fireworks like fountains or sparklers, Muñiz said.

“Keep fireworks out of children's hands. Make sure that teenagers that are old enough and mature enough to handle those sparklers – and be around [to] make sure they're being supervised,” Muñiz said. “We don't want to cause any injuries to our children. We have to remember that even sparklers can catch clothes on fire.”

Kelsey Goldbach is a Digital Media Intern with Connecticut Public.

She is a fourth year student pursuing an undergraduate degree in Journalism at the University of Southern California. Recently, Kelsey was a part of the Dow Jones News Fund Digital Intern Class of 2023. She is a Connecticut native and spends her summers in Waterbury.

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