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Officials stress dangers of fireworks

Law enforcement and medical officials want Buffalo residents to remember one thing as the Fourth of July approaches – leave the fireworks to the professionals.

Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard, Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield Jr. and Dr. Kathryn Bass, director of pediatric surgery at Women & Children's Hospital, held a news conference on fireworks safety Friday.

They stressed parents' roles in teaching their children about keeping safe, and reminded people that possession of fireworks of any kind, including sparklers, is illegal in New York, regardless of where the fireworks have been purchased.

Sparklers are the most common source of child injuries, Howard said, because they are not viewed as dangerous, even though they can reach temperatures of 1,800 degrees. "Parents tell kids don't play with matches, but then give them something that is way hotter than a match," he said.

Women & Children's Hospital did not treat any children for specific fireworks-related injuries during the Fourth of July week last year. However, two house fires in Buffalo were started by fireworks
Officials also stressed that materials such as flash powder, which is used in homemade explosives, are even more dangerous when exposed to high heat.

Capt. Sean Simet of the Sheriff's Office said people need to alert authorities when they know friends, family or neighbors have illegal fireworks. Safety is the No.?1 priority, and should be considered before legal ramifications, he said.

"We give a lot of consideration to folks who are looking to do the right thing," he said.