Safety first with fireworks


With a boom, flurry of colored lights fall from the sky. Colorful and exciting, fireworks have long been a symbol of celebration.

Citizens are reminded of state and local ordinances regarding the use of fireworks. The rules in place are to protect the public from unnecessary personal injury and property damage.

Each year, the Office of the State Fire Marshall [OSFM] requests data from Illinois hospital and emergency treatment centers to determine various facts about injuries associated with fireworks.

During seasonal reporting [July], 60 hospitals and facilities across the state reported a total of 202 injuries and one fatality in 2021. Comparatively, 89 hospitals, reported 163 years one year earlier.

Approximately half of all injured persons last year suffered multiple injuries. Of those injured, 143 were male and 59 females. According to OSFM, 57% of injuries were sustained by individuals age 22 and older, with the number of children ages 11-16 injured increasing from 23 in 2020 to 29 in 2021.

More than 50% of all injuries affected hands, injuries to the head/face and eyes. Second degree burns were the leading type of injury at 35% followed by first degree burns at 13%.

OSMF reports lacerations accounted for 10% of the injuries and abrasions. Dismemberment/amputation injuries decreased to seven compared to the 19 reported in 2020.

The injuries reported were related to a wide variety of fireworks with mortars and unknown type listed as the most frequent type of fireworks or pyrotechnic effect involved in injury at 25% and 17% respectively.

OSFM data indicated bottle rockets, roman candles, sparklers and salutes as being responsible for the majority of injuries.

Based on the reported incidents, the OSFM reports that COVID cancellations appear to have once again affected the fireworks season and increased at home injuries.

The balance of injuries reported were associated with various other effects including smoke bombs, firecrackers and hand held cones and fountains.

The Fireworks Act prohibits the sale, use or explosion of fireworks. Defined by state statute as “any explosive composition any substance or combination of substance or article prepared for the purpose of producing visible or audible effect.”

Basically, if it has a boom, it’s illegal.

The office of the state fire marshal prohibits all consumer fireworks. Prohibited fireworks include, but are not limited to, bottle and sky rockets, firecrackers of any size or type, roman candles, chasers, buzz bombs, helicopters, planes, missiles, pinwheels, ground items and hand held fireworks, as well as sky lanterns, a type of balloon that requires fire underneath to propel it upwards.

Each year local police departments receive an exorbitant number of firework complaints in the days leading up to and following the holiday. Coal City residents who observe unsafe activities should call the Coal City Police Department’s non-emergency number at 815-634-2341.

When it comes to fireworks, the village code states:

“No person shall discharge or set off any fireworks, or give or exhibit any pyrotechnic displays in the village, except public displays which are licensed my be given at any time permitted by the license.”

“ No public exhibition of fireworks or pyrotechnics shall be given unless a permit therefor is secured from the chief of police. All such public displays shall be under the supervision of a competent person and shall be superintended by the chief of police or some member of the police department assigned to this duty by the chief of police.”

“ No person, firm or cooperation shall discharge or set off in the village or keep in the village with the intention of doing so, any firecracker, toy cannon; canes for exploding potash, sulfur, or other dangerous explosives; so called “Chinese bombs,” or “American bombs,” torpedoes, paper balloons, or sky rockets except for public pyrotechnic display under proper supervision.”

Local residents are encouraged to attend an authorized fireworks display. A list of scheduled displays appears in this week’s print edition.

The non-profit Illinois Fire Safety Alliance reports health and safety officials say its vital the public understands the risks and long-term effects fireworks can pose to individuals, pets and combat veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.