Lt. Pat Gengler tells it to you straight, and he said last week that fireworks safety continues to be a serious problem in Kane County.
“On the Fourth of July, the biggest issue we have is home firework displays,” he said via email. “They are everywhere, and we get numerous calls. It is very hard to try (enhanced DUI patrols or any other Fourth of July police initiatives) when people all over the county are blowing off their own displays.”
A press release by the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshall says most of the injuries involving fireworks are children between 5 and 14 years old.
Let that sink in for a minute.
I’m not even going to provide a link to the images I found online from one police department that showed some of the injuries in gruesome detail.
Even sparklers, which are legal in Illinois and considered to be harmless, can burn at a temperature of more than 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit. Fireworks use can endanger users, bystanders and surrounding properties and structures.
“While we encourage families to celebrate and enjoy their Independence Day celebrations, we would like to remind everyone that with freedom comes the responsibility to follow the laws and be conscientious neighbors,” Kane County Sheriff Pat Perez says on the Sheriff’s Office website. “Every year, hundreds of families ignore the fireworks law and purchase fireworks from outside the state of Illinois.”
Perez is reminding everyone of the state law and county ordinance governing the use of illegal fireworks. Per ordinance Chapter 10 FIREWORKS, Sec. 10-16, (a) Consumer displays are hereby prohibited unless performed by a lead pyrotechnic operator as part of a pyrotechnic display …” According to 425 ILCS 35/2 Unlawful Possession, Sale, and Use of Fireworks, it is a Class A Misdemeanor for any person to knowingly possess, use, or explode any display fireworks, flame effects, or consumer fireworks.”
In Illinois last year, 76 emergency incidents were linked to the use of fireworks. Residents are reminded that under the Illinois Fireworks Act, it is illegal to possess, purchase or use consumer fireworks without a consumer display permit obtained from local authorities.
Since 2013, sky lanterns were also included in the list of illegal fireworks in Illinois.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), in 2011 fireworks caused 9,600 injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms. Sparklers, fountains and novelty fireworks alone accounted for 34 percent of those injuries. During the same year, fire departments responded to 17,800 fires caused by fireworks.
“Every year around the Fourth of July, we see people, sometimes small children, suffer terrible injuries due to fireworks,” said Larry Matkaitis, State Fire Marshal. “There is no such thing as a safe firework. It’s not worth taking the risk of using illegal or consumer fireworks that could ruin the life of you and your loved ones.”