Fire Officials Warn of the Dangers of Setting off Fireworks as Fourth of July Approaches

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Fireworks can be both fun and dangerous. Soon, people will be firing them off to ring in the Fourth of July holiday, and because of that, fire officials want to get the word out about what can go wrong now, before it's too late.

On Tuesday, Channel 13's Mike DaSilva talked to Des Moines residents who said they welcome people being allowed to shoot off fireworks.

"I think that we should be able to celebrate as much as we want for the Fourth of July, you know," said Kandace Foster. "It's our country, so I definitely agree with the passing and I just hope everybody is safe about it."

"As long as you follow the rules, I don`t see that there's a problem with it," said Shari Hand.

"I'm a nurse as well, and so I think that with anything, if you follow directions and instructions and handle them and monitor them the way that you should be and the way that they're instructed, I think they can be used safely, definitely," said Leigh Vanderholt.

But that's exactly what fire officials are worried about: people following instructions. And sometimes those instructions are not clear.

"When you read the fine print it says, 'goes at high rates of speed, long distances,' so when you ask somebody to, okay, let's do this as safely as possible, there's not a lot of information," said Brian O'Keefe, Public Information Officer for the Des Moines Police Department.

From roman candles to bottle rockets to black cats, each commercial grade firework has its own unique dangers.

"Number one injury is to the hand, so whether you're throwing something, and all the instructions say do not hold them, but that's the number one injury, is to hand and fingers," said O'Keefe. "Well, number two is face and eyes, because they're throwing and are holding."

O'Keefe says the fire department doesn't want to ruin anyone's fun, it just wants people to recognize the seriousness of using fireworks and be considerate of other people's property and lives. O'Keefe points out and encourages one surefire way to avoid any risk of danger: attending a public fireworks display like Yankee Doodle Pops.