Maryland State Fire Marshal warns fireworks-related injuries this year could be “extremely worse”

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During a fireworks safety demonstration, the Office of the Fire Marshal provided safety tips

MARRIOTTSVILLE, Md (WDVM) — The Fourth of July is about a week away and the Maryland State Fire Marshal predicts many more people will stay home and light sparklers and fireworks on their own–making safety a high priority.

“Unfortunately, I’m just afraid this year is going to be extremely worse than it has been because of the lack of public fire works displays,” said Maryland State Fire Marshal Brian Geraci. 

Geraci warns that this upcoming Independence Day weekend could see more injuries than years past as public displays across the state, including Frederick’s Fourth, are canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

“We’re going to see a lot more use consumer fireworks so today’s the day to inform the folks in our community on how to do it safely,” Geraci said Thursday morning during a fireworks safety demonstration by the Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) at the Howard County Public Safety Training Center. 

Sparklers are often a popular choice but these too can turn dangerous. As the OFSM Bomb Squad demonstrated, a spark from a sparkler can ignite a fire if held too close to clothing. And that metal handle, officials say, can reach up to 1200 degrees.

“I hate to say, we see it many times when a child hands they’re brought right into [the sparkler], they grab and they’ve got a first, second or maybe even worse degree burn,” explained bomb squad commander, Duane Svites. 

Sparklers, party poppers and ground-based sparklers are legal in some counties including Frederick and Washington counties.

“When you’re looking for these things in these mom and pop shops, there should be a label on it, ’emits showers of sparks,’ anything that says anything other than that is illegal in the state of Maryland,” Svites said. 

Also illegal throughout the state: bottle rockets, sparklers that leave the ground, and explosives.

“What we call an m-80 or a quarter-stick that’s usually homemade or some type of device that’s bought and [can] cause mass destruction.”

The bomb squad detonated a quarter stick explosive outside of the training center. A large boom erupted and pieces of the explosive stick flew out. Svites added that if someone was holding the explosive in their hand at the time, “that would be devastating. That would be a fatal wound, something you would not recover from.”

If you do decide to celebrate with fireworks, fire officials advise that only adults should light fireworks. Keep a bucket of water nearby to extinguish the fireworks and soak them before disposal. Officials add that you should never re-light a firework. 

All fireworks all illegal in Montgomery, Prince George’s, Howard and Harford Counties, and Baltimore City and Ocean City. 

Instead of lighting fireworks or sparklers at home, Geraci encourages attendance at a public fireworks display. For a list of public displays, visit https://mdsp.maryland.gov/firemarshal/Pages/ExplosivesandFireworks.aspx

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