Every year, fireworks set off during private celebrations cause tens of thousands of fires in the United States. Most occur during summer months. The blaze that damaged one California resident’s home happened on July 4th, Independence Day in the United States.
While this fire didn’t physically injure anyone, the event underscored how much damage these incendiary devices inflict if not handled with extreme caution. The blaze also provided a timely reminder about best practises for home firework use, though, of course, the only completely safe firework is one that isn’t purchased or ignited.
“A firework landed on a plant trellis against the home,” remembers Joel Moss, co-owner of Paul Davis of Santa Clarita, California. “It set the plants on fire and flames spread quickly to the patio cover. The main structure kindled quickly and before the fire department could put out the blaze, the home and its contents had been seriously damaged by smoke, soot, char and odour. Water damage was widespread, too, from fire department efforts to extinguish the flames.”
Moss and his team restored about a third of the home, including a full roof replacement. Contents were also heavily affected by smoke and odour. The team identified non-salvageable items for disposal, then packed up what could be salvaged and treated these possessions offsite with deodourizing and cleaning processes.
“The homeowner’s husband had passed away recently and she was still grieving, so it was very difficult for her to choose which possessions were particularly important,” Moss recalls. “We patiently worked through the decision process with her. Part of our job description is guiding people through the worst times of their lives, so we are honoured to help in this way.”
As summer comes, what can people do to help keep themselves, others and nearby structures safer (though again, the only safe firework is one that isn’t bought or used)? Moss gave a number of helpful hints though he cautions people to find and follow additional guidelines or, best of all, forego home celebrations and attend local shows hosted by professionals,
Use sparklers with extreme caution: they burn at a temperature capable of melting metal. Supervise their use closely, keep them far from flammable items and immerse spent sparklers in water immediately after use.
Never allow children to handle fireworks: Don’t let them approach detonated fireworks or pick up pieces of exploded fireworks. These leftover components may retain explosive capabilities.
Never point fireworks at anyone: Even in jest, this is a dangerous practice.
Never hold or lean over fireworks while igniting: Further, don’t put fireworks in your pockets – friction may accidentally ignite them.
Deploy only fireworks legal for sale in your municipality: Legal fireworks display manufacturers’ names and instructions for use. Illegal fireworks often lack these markings.
Follow common-sense safety rules for handling any hazardous item: Wear eye protection. Keep people and pets far from where fireworks are lit. Station buckets of water and fire extinguishers nearby. If you live in a historically dry area or one experiencing a drought, reconsider your plan to ignite fireworks.
Never relight or approach a firework that has not fully ignited: They may explode unexpectedly.
If you experience a fire at your property, Paul Davis answers your call for help 24 hours a day, seven days a week through the year including holidays.