Milwaukee police warn public about fireworks and homemade explosives ahead of 4th of July

NOW: Milwaukee police warn public about fireworks and homemade explosives ahead of 4th of July

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) --- With Fourth of July weekend just days away, it's the time of year when safety concerns arise related to fireworks.

From homemade explosives to commercial store-bought products, Milwaukee police are giving a demonstration of the risk involved.

Police say the biggest concern is people mistaking homemade explosive devices for fireworks. 

"We wanted to give a little demonstration about the hazards of fireworks and what are believed to be fireworks that are actually illegal improvised explosive devices," said Detective Walter Cappelli.

The Hazardous Devices Unit of the Milwaukee Police Department is using fruit to show how dangerous homemade explosives can be. "These were the types of devices that were thrown at our Milwaukee police officers last Fourth of July down on Water Street that injured two officers," said Cappelli.

Police say it's important that people do not mistake these dangerous and deadly explosives for fireworks to be played with. "Someone's making them in their basement garage...they can put whatever they want in them," said Detective Cappelli.

Cappelli says the most common sign of a homemade explosive is the glue marks near the fuse and the end caps. He also said any store-bought fireworks will typically have warning labels and homemade explosives will not.

Local health officials say emergency room injuries related to fireworks increase around this time of year and they're preparing for that to happen again.

Melissa Kersten with Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s Regional Burn Center says there are many summer-related burn injuries that occur, but fireworks are often the most common cause. 

"The worst-case could lead to amputations...some of those projectile fireworks, they can lead to limb loss ultimately," she said. Ordinances are different depending on where you live but in the city of Milwaukee, it is illegal to possess or light off fireworks or explosives of any kind. "There's citations that get issued all the time and fireworks that get confiscated every year," said Cappelli.

For those who are in an area where consumer fireworks are allowed, here are some common safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks
  • Only handle fireworks made to be used by consumers at home and only use them where it is legally allowed
  • Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse
  • Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks
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