MANKATO — With many Fourth of July celebrations canceled, state and local officials are concerned there could be an explosion of unsafe backyard fireworks use.
The Mankato Department of Public Safety and the State Fire Marshal Division issued warnings about fireworks dangers and tips for using them safely.
In Minnesota, residents are prohibited from possessing many types of fireworks.
“Basically anything that explodes or goes bang or flies is not allowed,” said Mankato Safety Marshal Sean Hayes.
But it’s not only the illegal fireworks that pose a danger. Sparklers cause the largest number of injuries, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
Before anyone picks up any firework, Hayes said they should educate themselves on how to properly use and dispose of them.
The department’s safety tips include: read the instructions on the packaging; wear eye protection; stay away from combustible materials; only light one at a time and never relight a firework that did not go off on the first try.
Users also should light most fireworks from a side approach — avoiding having any body parts above the device in case it goes off prematurely.
Spent fireworks should be soaked in water before put in the trash.
Hayes said fireworks use has not yet skyrocketed in Mankato like it has in some other parts of the country. The explosion of private use even spawned a protest by sleep-deprived New Yorkers.
Mankato officials are preparing for the possibility of a local boom and encourage anyone who observes use of illegal fireworks to call 911.
Last year 59 Minnesotans went to a hospital with a fireworks injury, according to the State Fire Marshal Division. Nearly half of the victims were age 19 or younger. More than $190,000 in property damage also was caused by fireworks last summer.
“We need Minnesotans to be safe, not sorry,” State Fire Marshal Jim Smith said in a statement. “Let’s not place further burdens on first responders and emergency room staff still working tirelessly to deal with COVID-19.”