Taking care when handling fireworksby Laura Yuen, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Fire-safety officials are urging the public to use extra care when handling fireworks during the Fourth of July weekend.
The number of injuries related to fireworks in Minnesota has been declining in recent years. But Deputy State Fire Marshal Becki White said complacency can lead to fires, including vehicle fires. White said all it takes is a stray cigarette to immediately light a bag of fireworks in the backseat.
"People throw them in the back of their car when they're transporting them across state lines because they can't obviously buy them in Minnesota. So they forget about them, and if they smoke, or something else happens, it can happen," White said.
Minnesota bans the use of fireworks that explode or lift off the ground like bottle rockets and firecrackers. But enforcing the law has been challenging because some people buy those items in bordering states and bring them into Minnesota. The state does allow sparklers, ground-spinners and fountains.
A Minnesota man who shoots fireworks displays is also asking members of the public to behave themselves this Fourth of July.
Greg Glavan, a licensed fireworks-display operator, is urging people to use caution -- not only when handling store-bought fireworks but while attending professional shows, watching the display from a safe distance.
"Pyrotechnicians are working with energetic materials behind the tape," Glavan said. "And your curiosity could result in serious injury to you or to them. So stay back. Watch from behind the tape."
Glavan said, in other cases where fireworks are shot from barges on the water, some boaters intentionally try to make waves near the barges. That can cause the pyrotechnicians to lose their footing, he said.
In 2008, 64 people were taken to Minnesota hospitals for fireworks-related injuries.