Fireworks permits selling slowly
Fireworks go on sale Monday in Honolulu, but so far, residents have not been rushing to get permits to set them off on New Year's Eve.
"We've been encouraging everybody to get their permits for about two or three weeks, but the word hasn't gotten out," said Capt. Kenison Tejada, spokesman for the Honolulu Fire Department.
Four satellite city halls will be open today from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for people who want to get $25 permits that will allow them to buy up to 5,000 firecrackers. Residents may get more than one permit.
The city halls that will be open today are Ala Moana, Hawaii Kai, Pearl Ridge and Windward Mall. Because Monday is an official holiday, government offices will be closed that day.
Mililani resident Edward McDowell, 47, stopped by the downtown satellite city hall yesterday to pick up permits for two strings of 5,000 fireworks. He said his family will burn them at midnight on New Year's Eve in a tradition dating back "as far as I can remember."
He came early for his permit so he could beat the rush.
"The lines will get much longer, plus the fireworks sell really fast," he said. "If you don't have a permit the day the fireworks go on sale, you might not get any."
Last year, more than 12,000 fireworks permits were sold in Honolulu, a big jump over the previous year. So far this year, sales have been slightly slower. As of Wednesday evening, 2,469 permits had been sold, down slightly from 2,569 at that time in 2004, Tejada said.
The permit system, which began in 2000, applies to "non-aerial common fireworks," also known as firecrackers. People who use sparklers and other novelties are not required to have permits.
Fireworks may be used only from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. on New Year's Eve, when fireworks sales also end.
Aerial fireworks are banned in Honolulu, except for sanctioned shows that have received public display permits from the fire chief.
It is also illegal to set off fireworks in Waikiki or near schools, hospitals and places of worship. They may not be set off in public roadways or in parks or cane fields.
Violations of the fireworks law can lead to fines of up to $2,000 for misdemeanors, and even felony charges.
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Fireworks safety tips
Close to 10,000 people are injured by fireworks in the United States annually, nearly 40 percent of them younger than 15, according to federal statistics.
Most injuries are caused by firecrackers, rockets and sparklers. In an effort to prevent accidents, Fire Chief Attilio Leonardi offers these safety tips for New Year's:
» Enjoy one of the public fireworks displays on New Year's Eve.
» If you use fireworks, always read and follow all warnings and instructions by the manufacturer for safety.
» Use only approved fireworks from a licensed retail outlet with a posted permit.
» Ensure that other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.
» Fireworks should be lit on a smooth, flat surface away from the house, dry leaves and flammable materials.
» Never set off fireworks in metal or glass containers.
» A garden hose or bucket of water should be readily available in the event of a fire.
» Young children and fireworks do not mix. Never give fireworks, even sparklers, to young children. Sparklers burn at temperatures of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
» Older children must be under the direct supervision of an adult when using fireworks.
» Every home should have a smoke detector in each sleeping area and on each level of the house.
» This is a good time to change the batteries in your smoke detectors and to ensure that you have a working fire extinguisher in your house.