Woman injured during fireworks safety demonstration

July 3, 2012 (CHICAGO)

"It hurts. Just a little spark and that's what happened so it could hurt anybody. And I was standing how far back from this," said victim Laura Barros, assistant executive director of the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance.

The demonstration involved common fireworks that anyone can buy. There was a crowd of reporters and others nearby, but no one else was injured.

"We did not mean to hurt anybody," said Chief Mike Kuryla, Hillside Fire Department. "This is very unfortunate. So I'd just like to get that message across - in any hands, train or untrained, these are very, very dangerous."

Barros went to the emergency room for treatment of what appeared to be a third-degree burn. She was released and is resting at home.

While the injury was relatively minor, the point was clear. Officials planned to demonstrate the danger of fireworks by using a sparkler to light the clothes of a mannequin on fire. Sparklers burn at up to 1800 degrees, enough to melt some metals, and enough to cause serious injury, fire officials say.

In this case, firefighters are nearby with an extinguisher. In most instances when amateurs are lighting fireworks at home that's not the case.

"Think twice before you hand a child a sparkler," said Mary Werderitch, Illinois Fire Safety Alliance.

The Illinois Fire Safety Alliance is offering safety tips for those who plan on shooting their own fireworks:

  • Make sure the fireworks you shoot are legal in your area
  • Keep young children away
  • Only use fireworks outdoors
  • Have water nearby in case of any mishaps
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