[flashvideo file=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnATdR77pLM /] By Wendy Osher
*** Video / Media Writing Intern, Bobbi-Lin Kalama of Kamehameha Schools – Maui.
Maui retailers began selling fireworks on Monday, as neighboring islanders prepare to ring in the New Years.
Fireworks festivities are still found on Maui, where novelty items such as sparklers and fountains that emit effects less than 12 feet away are allowed. This is not the case in O’ahu where a ban on these novelty items went into effect almost a year ago.
Surveillance by the state’s health ministry found that no fireworks-related injuries were treated at hospitals in O’ahu during the period of July 4 this year, compared to the average of 17 injuries the island sees each year.
The same report shows that four of nine injuries from fireworks on neighboring islands reported around July 4 this year occurred in Maui County. The tally for neighboring islands was the highest total since 2006.
Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa acknowledged the pros and cons of using fireworks, but said that “if done correctly, under parental supervision,” the fireworks could be a good thing.
“I wouldn’t want to ban fireworks per se; I would rather see better education on how to properly use fireworks, ”Mayor Arakawa said in an exclusive interview this week.
“Almost everything we deal with has to do with how we prepare, the care and consideration we use of it,” he said.
Maui’s Office of Fire Prevention urged the public to take proper precautions and suggested leaving the fireworks to the professionals.
There are three public fireworks in Maui County this year, including shows at the following locations: Hana, below Fagan’s Cross; Kihei, on an offshore barge facing the Grand Wailea Hotel; and on Lanai at the Manele Bay Hotel.
Fireworks and firecrackers can only be legally set off from 9 p.m. on New Years Eve until 1 a.m. on New Years Day in County Maui.
Setting off fireworks outside of designated times is punishable by law, with fines of up to $ 2,000.
“It’s really great to be able to participate in the celebrations and allow the general public to have something to work with,” said Mayor Arakawa.