Fireworks laws, while often ignored, exist for safety reasons

Fireworks laws, while often ignored, exist for safety reasons

Officials recommend that it's best to leave fireworks to trained professionals who have permits to use them.

Champaign Fire Department spokeswoman Dena Schumacher said the sights and sounds of fireworks are mesmerizing.

"It's part of Americana," Schumacher said. "So pack up the kids, pop the popcorn, let the glow sticks shine and head to the nearest professional display. It's worth the time, bustle and peace of mind."

The darker side of fireworks includes injuries to eyes and hands, and even deaths, she said.

"For the hundreds of illegal reverberating booms and glimpses of bottle-rocketed light in the sky, Illinoisans have paid with a lost finger, a lost hand or worse," Schumacher said. "Legislation was created to ban certain fireworks very simply because too many people were injured, lost lives."

In Champaign, which follows Illinois state laws on fireworks, "novelty" items, like sparklers and smoke devices, are permitted.

In Urbana, the local ordinance bans anything lit with a match.

Urbana Fire Division Chief Tony Foster said police and firefighters know that people are going to use fireworks illegally. But once they are reminded of the laws – and the dangers – citizens usually comply.

"There are fireworks going off in my neighborhood tonight," Foster said Saturday. "We know that people use them, even though they are illegal. We want them to be careful and not take them for granted."

Fireworks, even something as seemingly innocuous as a sparkler, can cause injury or damage, according to Foster. Temperatures from sparklers can reach 1,000 to 1,200 degrees.

"It's the human side that is our main concern," Foster said. "The property damage is serious, too, but people, especially children, can and are injured by fireworks every year."

According to the National Fire Protection Association, there were 10,800 people treated in hospital emergency rooms nationwide in 2005 for fireworks-related injuries. More than half of those involved burns, and 29 percent involved cuts or lacerations.

The association also reports that more fires occur in the U.S. on Independence Day than any other single day. More than half of those fires are caused by fireworks.

In 2004, the most recent association data available shows that fireworks started 1,600 structure fires – including 900 home fires – and 600 vehicle fires, causing 21 injuries and $21 million in property damage.

The Champaign County Freedom Celebration announced traffic restrictions and plans for this year's July 4 fireworks display, which has been moved to the Dodds Park-Parkland College area because of construction at University of Illinois Memorial Stadium, where the celebration is usually conducted.

Traffic will be restricted to one-way westbound on Bradley Avenue between Country Fair Drive and Clayton Boulevard from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday.

No parking will be allowed on the grass or in unmarked spaces. Violators face tickets and or having their vehicles towed. No recreational vehicles will be allowed in the area.

During the fireworks, Bradley Avenue will be closed between Country Fair Drive and Clayton Boulevard.

After the fireworks event, traffic will directed to a counter-clockwise rotation on the perimeter road. Officers will be directing traffic until most of the traffic has cleared the area.

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