By Kathryn Menue


With the Heritage Days Festival comes the family-friendly fun of games, food, music, parades, and so much more.

All of the joy, laughter, and memories will go out with a bang as the fireworks close the festivities Sunday night, June 26.  Families, friends, and neighbors will congregate in the fairgrounds as they watch the fireworks display as the children run around playing with sparklers. The fun is sure to continue into the Fourth of July weekend with families playing with legal fireworks and children continuing to dance around the light of their sparklers.

Despite the delightful entertainment fireworks and sparklers bring, everyone must make sure to tread carefully in the merriment to ensure a safe holiday season.

Fireworks and sparklers may be a form of entertainment, but they are also dangerous.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), from 1999 to 2014 there have been an estimated 151,100 people who have had firework or sparkler related injuries in the United States, with the highest amount of injuries occurring in 2013 at 11,400 and the lowest amount of injuries still hitting 7,000 people in 2008.

Although “there is not a statistically significant trend detected in the fireworks-related injury,” these injuries still remain a problem since the number of incidents is not decreasing.

“It’s not overwhelming, but it’s happening, and it’s preventable,” Belvidere Fire Department Lt. Shawn Schadle said.

Both the State of Illinois and the CPSC released safety tip lists to help prevent further injuries.

“Never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks.

Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.”

The Belvidere Fire Department has responded to cases of injury due to people going to check on fireworks.

Lt. Schadle said one man went to check the mortar, when a firework didn’t go off. As he looked into the mortar, the firework went off and “severely injured” him to the point of which he lost his eye.

The safety tips also said to “keep a bucket of water for a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.

Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.

Avoid buying fireworks packaged in brown paper because this signifies that the fireworks were made for professional displays that could pose a threat to the average consumer.

Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks, and never point or throw fireworks at another person.”

Fire departments have seen cases where throwing fireworks at people or throwing fireworks into buildings to get people’s attention has caused serious injury, damage, and death.

Lt. Schadle said in one report, a 19-year-old male threw a firework into an apartment window to get his brother’s attention and the apartment complex caught on fire, killing one of the neighbors.

The CPSC and the State of Illinois also warn people to “never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.

After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent devise with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.

Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.”

In the state of Illinois, the legal fireworks include: “snake or glow worm pellets; smoke devices; trick noisemakers known as “party poopers,” “booby traps,” “snappers,” “trick matches,” “cigarette loads,” and “auto burglar alarms;” sparklers; toy pistols, toy canes, toy guns, or other devices in which paper or plastic caps containing twenty-five hundredths grains or less of explosive compound are used, provided they are so constructed that the hand cannot come in contact with the cap when in place for the explosion; and toy pistol paper or plastic caps that contain less than twenty hundredths grains of explosive mixture.”

The list of legal fireworks in the State of Illinois also includes cones, showers of sparks, fountains, and repeaters (cakes).

However, “single tube fountains must not contain more than 75 grams total of pyrotechnic composition. Cone fountains must not contain more than 50 grams total of pyrotechnic composition. Multiple-tube fountains must not contain more than 200 grams total of pyrotechnic composition,” the State of Illinois reported.

The state allows mines, comets, tubes, shells, fancy florals, and parachutes as well.

“These items are firework devices designed to produce low-level aerial effects, which are propelled into the air by a lift charge. Shells will burst at the peak of flight to create a display of stars, reports, or other effects or leave a trail of sparks until exhausted. These items contain a maximum of 40 grams of chemical composition and no more than 20 grains of lift charge.”

Although the above are technically legal, that does not mean they are safe.

The State of Illinois warns that there should always be an adult present when using these fireworks or even with using sparklers.

“Parents don’t realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt some metals,” the State of Illinois reported.

In comparison with sparklers, matches only burn at 325 degrees.

The danger of sparklers accounts for the high amount of Emergency Room reported injuries between June 20 and July 20, 2014. Nationally, sparklers caused about 1,400 injuries in this 30 day period.

“It’s [sparkler injuries] the most surprising because it is the most common and it’s mostly kids using them,” Lt. Schadle said.

Illinois regulates fireworks because the ones that are illegal are more dangerous and can cause even more damage.

“Everything that’s technically classified as fireworks are not legal,” Lt. Schadle said.

Fireworks that are not allowed in Illinois include: “hand held fireworks, bottle rockets, firecrackers of any size or type, sky rockets, Roman candles, chasers, buzz bombs, ground items other than those identified as Approved Consumer Fireworks; helicopters, missiles, pin wheels or any other twirling device whether on the ground or mounted above the ground, planes, and sky lanterns.”

By avoiding illegal fireworks and by adhering to the firework safety measures, firework injuries are preventable.

“If you follow the law and you are safe about it – the chance of injury is very small,” Lt. Schadle said. “The main thing to stress is to be smart, supervise children, sparklers are dangerous, and never relight a firework.”

For more information on sparkler and firework safety, go to









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