Leave It To The Pros: Fire Officials Discourage Consumer Fireworks

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Mike Schuh joined WJZ Eyewitness News as a general assignment reporter...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ)—We are less than a week away from Fourth of July celebrations and for many people that means fireworks.

But beware: state officials say fireworks caused nearly $1.5 million in damages last year.

Mike Schuh met with fire officials who are hoping to discourage the use of all consumer fireworks.

The professionals have a simple request: just go to a big public display.

Don’t make a big mistake blowing up your own holiday.

Amateur, consumer fireworks–even the legal ones–can cause injures that last a lifetime.

“To tell a parent that their child is not going to see well or at all is a terrible thing to say, and it feels awful,” said Dr. Dean Fiergang, pediatric eye surgeon.

Sure, firecrackers aren’t very impressive. Or are they?

Small particles can be propelled into an eye.

“The most common firework to do that is the bottle rocket, the one that flies erratically around and very fast. It makes a direct hit it will perforate the globe, rupture the globe,” Fiergang said.

But even a sparker is bad news. They’re a thousand degrees hotter than boiling water. Sparklers have blinded kids.

Sparks from any fireworks can catch shirts on fire, and when they burn they melt, causing permanent scars.

Fireworks injured 9,000 people last year.

Hands are often blown apart.

Dr. Ray Wiitstadt, of the Curtis National Hand Center, puts them back together when he can.

“I always say you don’t want to have a moment of carelessness to lead to a lifetime of regret because it is permanent, it is permanent,” Wiitstadt said.

So every year, state and local fire agencies ask you to use good judgment.

And every year they tell us what happened last year.

Last year, legal and illegal fireworks led to 20 house fires that caused nearly $1.5 million in damages.

There are over 100 public fireworks displays during the holiday.

Fireworks can be seen at Annapolis City Dock starting at 9:15 pm, Lake Kittamaquandi in Columbia at 9:30 pm or in the Inner Harbor at 9:30 pm.

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