By Mike Fletcher Kokomo Tribune
---- — In 2011, an estimated 17,800 fires involving fireworks were reported in the United States, the National Fire Protection Association reported.
Of those fires, 1,200 were structure fires, 400 vehicle fires and the remaining outside fires. In addition, eight deaths were reported along with 40 injuries in those fires, which resulted in $32 million in damage, the NFPA reported.
With that in mind, fire officials urge residents to be extra careful this week as the Fourth of July celebrations get under way.
While no major fires or injuries were reported in Kokomo last year, the dangers are real, said Nick Glover, deputy chief of the Kokomo Fire Department.
“Leave the fireworks to the professionals,” Glover said. “The best way to celebrate the Fourth is to attend a public display with trained professionals.”
The biggest problem last year was the drought, said Glover.
“We didn’t respond to a lot of calls for fires, but we did receive a lot of calls regarding the burn ban and fireworks. That kept us the busiest. Since the fireworks laws changed we have more users. But, I can’t think of any major problems last year, mostly injuries to kids not being supervised.”
Fireworks should only be set off outdoors from a stable, level surface with a source of water nearby. Also, users should never relight a firework that goes out or does not discharge, state police warn.
State police encourage adults to constantly supervise the use of fireworks by children to reduce the risk of injury.
To ensure a safe Fourth of July, emergency officials remind people of the laws regarding fireworks.
According to Indiana law, fireworks may be set off between 9 a.m. and midnight on the holiday, or between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. on other days.
The law also states only individuals over the age of 18 may purchase fireworks. A person 18 years of age or older has to be present when anyone younger than 18 is using or possesses fireworks.
When launching off fireworks, location is the key.
People may only discharge fireworks on their property or the property of someone who granted permission for fireworks to be discharged, or a place designated by the Indiana state fire marshal for the discharge of consumer fireworks.
A person who violates this law can be charged with a Class C infraction, which is punishable by a maximum fine of $500 per infraction. More than one infraction in five years may constitute a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a maximum $500 fine.
A person recklessly, knowingly or intentionally using fireworks illegally can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor if the violation causes property damage. The offense is enhanced to a Class D felony if there is bodily injury, and a Class C felony if there is a death.
Where to watch fireworks Wednesday - Kokomo Speedway at dusk Thursday - Greentown (Howard County Fairgrounds) at dusk Thursday - Tipton at the Tipton County 4-H Fairgrounds 10 p.m. Thursday - Walton at dusk Thursday - Peru at the Maconaquah Park on Park Drive off Ind. 19 at dusk Friday - Burlington at dusk July 6 - Haynes Apperson Festival, Foster Park at dusk Fireworks facts 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. Glass melts at 900 degrees and wood burns at 575 degrees. The risk of fireworks injury is highest for children ages 5 to 19 and adults 24 to 44. U.S. hospital and emergency rooms treated 9,600 people with fireworks-related injuries. The most commonly used fireworks, such as fountains and sparklers, accounted for more than 28 percent of these injuries. Source: National Fire Protection Association. On the web: For more information on Indiana's fireworks laws visit www.in.gov/dhs.