Fireworks Injuries Dropped Along with Ball on Oahu's NYE

Fireworks Injuries Dropped Along with Ball on Oahu's NYE

News Jan 02, 2013

Jan. 02--The kickoff to 2013 was far quieter than New Year's celebrations in years past.

On Oahu's second New Year's holiday under a fireworks ordinance that bans all but firecrackers, there were six minor fireworks-related blazes and five people taken to hospitals for fireworks-related injuries.

By comparison, firefighters responded to 22 fireworks-related blazes from Dec. 31, 2011, to Jan. 1, 2012. When Hawaii rang in 2011, there were 36 fireworks-related fires.

While first responders were heartened by the drop, they said some residents continue to set off long-illegal aerial fireworks or "improvised explosive devices," despite the dangers, widespread enforcement and hefty penalties.

There were also numerous reports of aerial luminaries being set off this New Year's holiday. The paper lanterns, which float away with the aid of a candle, were banned in 2012.

"We're encouraged by the fact that there seems to be a reduction in fireworks-related fires, but there continues to be some significant injuries caused from fireworks," said Honolulu Fire Department spokesman Capt. Terry Seelig.

The five fireworks-related injuries included one that left a man in his 20s with "serious injuries," Seelig said at a news conference Tuesday.

The incident happened about 10 p.m. Monday in Hawaii Kai, when the man detonated a homemade explosive. Further details on his injuries were unavailable.

In a separate incident in Kalihi involving illegal fireworks, four people who suffered injuries were transported to a hospital in stable condition.

Seelig said other bystanders at the scene had minor injuries that did not require hospital trips.

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"It could have been a lot worse," he said.

The were a big drop from the 15 Oahuans injured while ringing in 2012.

The six fireworks-related fires that HFD responded to from New Year's Eve through Tuesday morning included one small structure fire, which caused about $500 in damage, and five rubbish or Dumpster fires.

The small structure fire was caused when a small child dropped a sparkler, setting fire to papers on a desk, Seelig said. Bystanders helped put out the flames with garden hoses.

Seelig said the incidents involving illegal novelty fireworks (such as sparklers and fountains) underscore the need for more public awareness and education.

"We all work together, helping people understand the risks and hazards and what could happen," he said.

In addition to a decline in fireworks-related problems, it was a quieter New Year's holiday overall, with no traffic fatalities or serious accidents.

"The prevention message must be working," said Patty Dukes, chief of the city Emergency Medical Services Division.

She said paramedics responded to 26 assaults from 7 p.m. New Year's Eve to 7 a.m. Tuesday. Paramedics also responded to 16 cases of people having difficulty breathing.

In all, there were 186 calls made to EMS over the 12-hour period.

Dukes said while that's down from previous years, it's still busy. By comparison, there were an average of 231 calls made to EMS daily (over a 24-hour period) in November.

Copyright 2013 - The Honolulu Star-Advertiser

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