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Practice fireworks safety, know the law on Independence Day

June 29, 2018

Sparklers, firecrackers and Roman candles are a traditional part of Fourth of July and Independence Day celebrations and gatherings. But fireworks also are dangerous explosives that cause millions of dollars in property damage and nearly 10,000 emergency room visits nationally each year. Fireworks also are illegal in many counties, including Knox and Blount.

“Every year, we see an increase in injuries caused by fireworks,” said Travis Estes, Loudon County EMS Director for Priority Ambulance. “Emergency rooms treat multiple types of fireworks injuries, including burns on the arms and face, scarring, ear trauma, eye injuries and even in rare instances, loss of limb.”

Mishaps from fireworks often are due to unsafe handling or being too close to the devices. But defects, including short fuses and overcharging, also can cause injuries. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) states that a national average of 250 people are admitted daily to emergency rooms for fireworks injuries during the month-long period around July 4.

Priority Ambulance recommends leaving fireworks for the pros as the safest option for families this holiday weekend. Purchasing, using or storing fireworks is illegal in Knox, Anderson and Blount counties. Purchasing and using fireworks is legal in Loudon and Sevier counties, but not in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, or Sevierville city limits.

Before purchasing or using fireworks, check local county and municipality laws.  If operating fireworks in a legal area, follow these tips:

  • Purchase fireworks from reliable distributors.
  • Keep a bucket of water or garden hose nearby.
  • Do not wear loose-fitting clothing.
  • Alcohol and fireworks do not mix.
  • Young children should never be allowed to play with fireworks of any type.
  • Children under 15 are the most likely population to sustain fireworks-related injuries and should always be supervised by an adult.
  • According to the CPSC, sparklers top the list of common fireworks that cause injuries. A standard sparkler can burn up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and can cause severe burns or eye injuries.
  • Never open the fireworks packaging. The powder inside fireworks is highly flammable. If powder gets on skin, it can ignite, causing serious burns.
  • Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks. Don’t place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse.
  • Never re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully. Soak in water and discard them.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Fireworks frighten animals and are a leading cause of runaway pets, especially dogs, in the summer. Do not have animals outside when igniting fireworks.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
  • Never carry fireworks in a pocket or ignite them in metal or glass containers.

“The safest way to enjoy fireworks this year is to take advantage of one of the many licensed, professional fireworks shows that take place throughout Knox and the surrounding counties,” Estes said. “If you do decide to purchase personal fireworks, celebrate the Fourth safely and legally.”

The City of Knoxville will hold its free annual Festival on the Fourth at World’s Fair Park. The event, which features free food and music, begins at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, July 4. The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra will perform the 34th Annual Free Pilot Flying J Independence Day Concert at 8 p.m., followed by a spectacular fireworks display.

The City of Lenoir City presents “Rockin’ the Docks” on Saturday, June 30, from 1-11 p.m. with free live music and fireworks.

About Priority Ambulance:
Based in Knoxville, Tenn., Priority Ambulance provides the highest level of clinical excellence in emergency and nonemergency medical care to the communities it serves. Throughout its national service area, approximately 2,000 highly trained paramedics and EMTs staff a fleet of approximately 400 state-of-the-art vehicles with the latest medical equipment and technology.

Priority Ambulance’s community of companies operates under trusted local brands providing medical transport options in nine states. The Priority Ambulance company partners include Shoals Ambulance in Alabama; Maricopa Ambulance in Arizona; Puckett EMS in Georgia and Southeast Tennessee; Central EMS in Georgia; Seals Ambulance in Indiana; Kunkel Ambulance in Upstate New York; Trans Am Ambulance in western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania; Medshore Ambulance in South Carolina; and Priority Ambulance in East Tennessee. Priority Ambulance also serves Baptist Memorial Health Care facilities in West Tennessee and Mississippi under the Baptist brand.