Jun 292011

By Teri Walker–

Arizonans transplanted from other states (as so many Arizonans are) have fond memories of waving spitting, flickering sparklers through the air while waiting for the town fireworks show to start.

This is only the second year Arizonans can legally fire off their own pyrotechnics during Fourth of July celebrations, since the Arizona Legislature passed a law in 2010 allowing private use of some fireworks.

With fireworks sales well underway in anticipation of the upcoming holiday weekend, it’s a good time to think about how to safely handle these little burning bundles that can reach temperatures of 1,800 to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

The National Council on

Fireworks Safety offers the following safety tips:

* Obey local laws (Holbrook allows “consumer” fireworks usage, in accordance with state law).

* Parents and caretakers should always closely supervise teens using fireworks.

* Parents should not allow young children to handle or use fireworks; only persons over the age of 12 should be allowed to handle sparklers of any type.

* Fireworks should only be used outdoors.

* Always have water nearby (a hose or a bucket).

* Only use fireworks as intended. Don’t try to alter them or combine them.

* Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.

* Use common sense. Spectators should keep a safe distance from the shooter and the shooter should wear safety glasses.

* Alcohol and fireworks do not mix.

* Do not ever use homemade fireworks or illegal explosives. They can kill.

Holbrook Fire Chief Alex Baker added, “Be aware of your surroundings. Choose a clear area, or clear an area of weeds, and be sure to have some sort of fire extinguisher available, be it water, a shovel and rake, or an actual fire extinguisher.

“Anticipate what direction the firework might go and be ready to put it out.

“Even sparklers are extremely hot and can cause severe burns,” Baker warned, saying adults should follow the recommendations on fireworks packaging related to age restrictions and proper use of the product.

Fireworks legal for “consumer use” in Arizona are essentially those items which stay on the ground and don’t explode: ground and hand-held sparkling devices, cylindrical fountains, cone fountains, illuminating torches, wheels, ground spinners, flitter sparklers, toy smoke devices, wire sparklers or dipped sticks, and multiple tube fireworks.

It is illegal to use fireworks designed to rise into the air, fly above ground or explode, including, for example, bottle rockets, sky rockets, missile-type rockets, helicopters, torpedoes, Roman candles and Jumping Jacks.

Fireworks can be used throughout the year in Arizona. It’s a good idea to check for local fire restrictions, however, particularly during dry or windy periods.

Photo by Teri Walker

John Hager (left), 15, and Tanner Walker, 13, both of Holbrook, light up ground spinners fireworks, which erupt into whirring balls of colored light.