BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — You may have already started hearing fireworks around town with the Fourth of July only being one week away. But with those loud explosions and bright lights, comes fire danger.
Both Kern County Fire and Bakersfield Fire say they are doing everything they can leading up to the 4th of July not only responding to emergencies but also limiting the use of the illegal fireworks with a new drone program they have in place. But they also say they need the public’s help in reporting them.
While fireworks can light up the sky they can also pose a risk to public safety. Andrew Freeborn with the Kern County Fire Department says it's best to have qualified individuals light fireworks.
“The first big message when we consider the safety of fireworks is the type of fireworks that individuals use. We want to continue to discourage individuals from using illegal fireworks or modifying illegal fireworks and using them in an illegal way,” explained Freeborn. “We want to encourage individuals that want to see the ariel display to go to a show where the professionals are doing that. Don’t try to do that yourself.”
But Brian Bowman with the Bakersfield Fire Department adds if you are going to engage in the activity yourself, do so safely and legally.
“So the first thing you want to do is you want to ensure that the fireworks that you are purchasing or the ones that you are setting off are approved by the state fire marshal. They’re going to have a seal on them that’s going to be the "safe and sane" seal from the state fire marshal. You can look it up online. Anything that does not have that label, is illegal to use in the city of Bakersfield.”
Bowman also says to keep safety products nearby for children and pets.
“When you're done with the fireworks, submerge them in water, dose them in water and make sure they are cool. And another thing is to keep the children away from fireworks. Have one adult set as the person that’s going to ignite the fireworks and then have the other adults keep an eye on the kids so that everyone is safe during the process.”
Freeborn adds it’s always important to remember that fireworks can cause fires during this hot summer season.
“All fireworks if used inappropriately run the risk of starting a fire, and we have seen that in California. Here locally in Kern County, everything is extremely dry. We’ve had this drought for so long now and we’re seeing fires that are even in city areas, where there’s dry grass, it's near homes and it can easily spread into the home.”
Both Freeborn and Bowman say the most important thing to keep in mind when reporting illegal fireworks is that 9-1-1 is just for emergencies. If you do want to report illegal fireworks it's best to use the hotline number (661) 868-6070. Or through the Kern County Fire website or the Bakersfield Fire Department website.
- Kern County Fire Department has more information about illegal fireworks online.
- The Bakersfield Fire Department has more fireworks safety tips online.
And staying on topic with firework safety, 23ABC is taking an in-depth look at numbers illustrating the importance of being mindful while celebrating the nation's independence.
According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2020 fireworks were involved in an estimated 15,600 injuries treated in U.S. hospitals.
Additionally, adults aged 25 to 44 years of age experienced about 35 percent of the estimated injuries, and children younger than 15 years of age accounted for 18 percent of the estimated injuries.
The most common parts of the body injured during these accidents were the hands and fingers.
And lastly, there were an estimated 1,600 emergency department-treated injuries associated with firecrackers and 900 with sparklers.