Man Blinded by Fireworks: Safety is Important
Above is the headline nobody wants to see on July 5th. Safety IS IMPORTANT!!!
Imagine being the guy who shoots off the big shells on the fourth of July each year. As a professional pyrotechnician, I love to light up the sky. Seeing the beautiful colors on a black sky backdrop is incredible. My love affair with fireworks goes back over 4 decades.
I used to go across the river to Indiana or down to Tennessee to buy the biggest and baddest fireworks available. Until my buddy Lou taught me about the big stuff. From that moment on I was hooked.
Lou is the Godson of the late Zambelli Fireworks patriarch George Zambelli. George passed away on Christmas Day 2003 but left the family legacy as the “First Family of Fireworks”. The company is one of the oldest fireworks firms in the United States.
I was taught by the very best in the world. What they taught me was safety. Safety first for your audience, the folks working with you and yourself. For a commercial display there are insurance, licensing, permitting, transportation matters to contend with. Not to mention mother nature and other on site problems. You must plan the event down to the final removal of equipment after the show. All in the name of safety.
Fireworks large or small are dangerous. Then why do I go thru hours of safety training on everything from transport to shooting a show to teardown and the average person over 18 can go buy consumer fireworks with NO training? The truth is more people are hurt by consumer fireworks each year than from professional show. Sparklers can blind, burn and leave scars to last a lifetime.
With a few pointers you can make shooting Class “C” fireworks (the consumer kind), safer. The City of Owensboro is concerned for your safety and has issued the following statement.
The City of Owensboro encourages everyone to exercise safe firework handling this Fourth of July holiday. Under city ordinance fireworks can generally be used between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. and to the extended hour of midnight on July 3 and 4. No one under the age of 18 may use them at any time. They can not be used within 200 feet of any structure or motor vehicle (whether operational or not). This ordinance is available on the City’s website at www.owensboro.org.
Additional firework safety tips:
- Never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks.
- Read and follow all instructions on the label.
- Before lighting fireworks, make sure that other people are out of range.
- Light fireworks on a flat surface.
- Keep water close by at all times when fireworks are being used. You might also have a fire extinguisher (class A or AB). A shovel with a sand pile is also helpful.
Alcohol and drugs should never be a part of any fireworks activities. This seems to be the number one thing that makes us do stupid and dangerous things.
I also never repeat never wear anything other than cotton clothing when shooting. Polyester blends melt to the skin rather than burn leaving a nasty deep burn that can easily get infected. The thicker the better.
Leather sole shoes are also manditory if you are going to shoot with me. Man made materials melt into the skin (not a good thing). A hat (remember natural fabric) and protective glasses are also required.
Now (if you feel comfortable and are over the age of 18) go out and light something. Or the easier and cheaper way is to go to a public display and just enjoy. Have a safe Fourth of July.