‘Alcohol and fireworks don’t mix:’ July 4 holiday marks busiest time of year for firefighters

BIG BEND -- The Fourth of July marks the busiest time of year for fire departments as people celebrate Independence Day with fireworks. Stressing safety around fireworks may seem like common sense, but 12,900 people were treated in emergency rooms for firework-related injuries in 2017 – and nearly one third of those cases involved children under 15.

"It's our nation's birthday, and we're very honored and pleased to help people celebrate it," said Heather Siegel, American Fireworks owner.

American Fireworks

Amid the firecrackers, sparklers and novelty fireworks at American Fireworks, you'll find safety reminders too.

Heather Siegel

"Just like when people are taking part in beers and cocktails -- designated driver -- so we have designated lighters. Alcohol and fireworks don't mix," said Siegel.

While buying fireworks is legal in Wisconsin, in many cities, setting them off is not.

"That's kind of the misnomer out there," said Lieutenant Dan Tyk with North Shore Fire Rescue.

Tyk said if it flies, think twice.

"Generally if it goes into the air, if it shoots off sparks, it is not legal to use anywhere in the North Shore area," said Tyk.

Dan Tyk

Even where sparks can fly, without a permit, Tyk said there are no guarantees.

"It's designed to blow up. Nothing is perfect. Nothing always works as intended," said Tyk.

Several years back, Tyk saw those dangers unfold at a local celebration.

"An 8-year-old girl was using a sparkler with some of her friends," said Tyk.

Tyk said a stray spark caught her dress on fire.

"She suffered pretty significant third-degree burns and ended up in a burn center," said Tyk.

At the family-owned American Fireworks, Siegel said safety comes first.

"Because that's what it's all about -- celebrating our Independence Day and having a great time," said Siegel.

Violating fireworks laws could land you a fine of up to $1,000.

"Regardless of the fine, you can't put a price tag on your life, so don't take those chances," said Tyk.

Fire officials say if you are going to light fireworks, have a plan to extinguish them before you do -- and keep a bucket of water nearby.