MAINE, USA — Independence Day is right around the corner, and safety is vital if you plan to light fireworks.
South Portland Deputy Fire Chief Bill Collins said that while fireworks can be a great way to celebrate the holiday, people must handle them cautiously.
"They are explosives," Collins said.
Fireworks can cause fires, injuries, and severe burns. It's essential to check whether fireworks are legal or not in the town or city where you live.
"Fireworks here in South Portland are illegal 365 days a year," Collins said.
Safety tips for handling fireworks:
- Never allow children to light or handle them.
- Get to a safe distance after lighting fireworks.
- Keep them away from people, pets, other houses, and flammable materials.
- Light one device at a time.
- Keep a bucket of water or fire extinguisher nearby.
Collins said it's really dry this time of year, so people should be extra careful when lighting them. He added that the tips of sparklers cause major burns every year, especially on kids.
"You need to treat them with the respect that they deserve; it's a loaded weapon," Collins said.
Remember to keep your pets inside, too, as the sound of fireworks can be very stressful for them.
"Make sure you have adult supervision; make sure that you are not impaired in any way when you are using them. Be prepared that it may cause a small fire; be prepared it might cause a big fire and you need to call the fire department. Have a hose [and] a bucket of water to drop one that didn't go off quite right -- you can drop that firework right in a bucket of water. Make it safe."
"Fireworks are dangerous. Sparklers are legal throughout the state of Maine, but those too can be dangerous to children. They burn at about 2000 degrees. We get lots of burns from sparklers. Obviously, you wouldn't give a 5-year-old a torch but don't give them a sparkler without making sure that you are taking care of them and watching what they are doing," Collins said.
The Fourth of July fireworks show at the Eastern Promenade in Portland will happen this year, but there will be no live music due to a shortage of city staff members to help manage and clean up after the event.
The fireworks display in Portland is scheduled to start at 9:15 p.m. on Monday, July 4th. If it rains, the show will happen on Tuesday, July 5th.