Ashes, of what was once a tee shirt, lay on the ground at the dangers of fireworks demonstration put on by the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance Tuesday morning, to show just how dangerous one particular favorite childhood novelty can be.
Millions and millions of sparklers — yes, sparklers — pose a real fire hazard every year around the Fourth of July Holiday.
“They’re not considered a firework so people think, ‘well what could happen?’ The problem with it is that this sparkler can burn up to 1,800 degrees,” says Mike Figolah, the Assistant Fire Chief of the Bartlett Fire Protection District.
And with temperatures that high, it is easy for materials such as clothing to catch fire.
“You touch it for a moment when it burns at 1,800 degrees, it’s going to set that on fire,” he says.
And once on fire, burns follow suit.
“If a sparkler touches a shirt and burns, that burn can occur within five seconds,” Bartlett Fire Chief Mike Falese says.
To prove that point, the fire department set up a fake person dressed in clothes and lit a seemingly harmless sparkler. The shirt was touched by the sparkler, leading to a small fire that eventually grew into a large fire, and subsequently an inevitable serious burn wound.
In 2013, emergency departments treated 11,400 fireworks-related injuries. Of those, 64% are burns. 41% are second degree burns. Children are especially susceptible with 40% of all fireworks injuries occurring to those under 15.
But it’s not just sparklers. Fireworks are very dangerous, as Fire Chief Mike Falese says.
“One third of the fireworks that are sold in our country, that are coming from overseas, are not passing federal regulations. So those are the ones where, ‘holy cow that fuse was really quick,'” Falese tells Eyewitness News.
That is one of the significant reasons behind the danger of fireworks and sparklers here in the United States. But Phil Zaleski, the Executive Director of the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance, says there is one very good way to avoid sparkler and firework injuries
“Fireworks are illegal in the state of Illinois and that you leave it to the professionals and visit professional shows to enjoy fireworks over Independence Day.”