ORONO, Maine — This weekend, we’ll celebrate our nation’s independence. The Fourth of July is a time that should be fun. Unfortunately, it can sometimes turn tragic because of fireworks.
“[Fireworks] can be very dangerous, up to including, you know, fatal," says Orono Fire Chief Geoffrey Low.
In 2020, the Maine Emergency Medical Management system (EMS) reported 14 individuals were transported to medical facilities for treatment of injuries caused by fireworks. The victims ranged from five to forty-one years of age.
Also in 2020, Maine’s Forest Service reported 20 fires were caused by fireworks and destroyed 5.1 acres.
You can read the complete report here.
To ensure Mainers have a safe holiday weekend, fire officials are sharing some firework safety tips.
1. Keep your distance
“We would certainly recommend [folks] keep a distance of at least 25 feet away [from fireworks],” says Low.
2. Don't approach fireworks that haven't gone off
Chief Low says it's best to leave the explosive alone for a while. Before picking it up or retrieve it, it's suggested to smother it with a bucket of water.
3. Be careful with sparklers
"Once that sparkler goes away, that rod is very hot and can reach tempters up to 2,000 degrees," Low explains.
4. Fireworks and alcohol don't mix
Don’t consume alcohol before (or while using) fireworks or sparklers.
5. Go over state firework laws
“You have to be over 21 to use fireworks, you must be on your own property," shared Assistant State Fire Marshal Richard McCarthy. "The time frame throughout the year is 9 a.m. to 10 at night." McCarthy says for July 4th, New Year's Eve, and the weekends before and after those holidays, fireworks are allowed to go till 12:30.
6. Check local ordinances
McCarthy explained towns and cities can make fireworks illegal within their town.
A full list of firework safety tips from the Maine State Fire Marshal Office can be found here.