The Fourth of July is almost here, and the holiday celebrations are bound to be full of family, friends, food, fun and, of course, fireworks. Despite the entertainment value and the common use of fireworks, they can be dangerous, turning a day filled with festivities into a frightening visit to the hospital.
So How Dangerous are Fireworks?
According to the National Fire Protection Association, during 2017, 12,900 people were treated for fireworks related injuries; “54% of those injuries were to extremities and 36% were to the head.” These injuries ranged in exact cause from homemade or illegal fireworks to sparklers and firecrackers, but regardless of the firework behind the damage, it’s important to keep safety top of mind when fireworks are involved, especially with children present. The National Fire Protection Association states that “children younger than 15 years of age accounted for more than one-third (36%) of the estimated 2017 injuries.”
Another potential negative side effect that is often overlooked is the amount of fires that occur from fireworks-related activities. According to the National Fire Protection Association, “Fireworks start an average of 18,500 fires per year, including 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires, and 16,900 outside and other fires. These fires caused an average of three deaths, 40 civilian injuries, and an average of $43 million in direct property damage.” It is especially important to consider this unintended consequence if you are in an area that is under a drought or surrounded with flammable landscaping, structures, or other items.
The best way to stay safe around fireworks is not to use them at home and instead attend a public firework display where experts work with the explosive materials and safety officials are nearby and ready to assist if anything does go wrong. But, if you are going to use consumer fireworks, make sure you are doing so legally and as safely as possible.
According to the American Pyrotechnics Association (APA), consumer fireworks for the Fourth of July are legal in 49 states and the District of Columbia. However, it is important to remember that only certain types of fireworks are legal and what those are depends on your location. Be sure to check what fireworks are legal in your area before purchase and use.
Consumer Safety Tips
If you decide to use consumer fireworks at home, understand that there are risks associated with use and injuries can happen. To stay as safe as possible, follow these tips:
- Do not use fireworks while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Do not allow young children to handle or light fireworks
- Always ensure that an adult supervisor is present and closely watching any fireworks activities
- Wear protective eyewear if handling fireworks
- Do not light fireworks indoors
- Do not use fireworks near people, houses, or other flammable material
- Do not light fireworks in a container
- Light only one firework at a time and move away quickly and safely
- Do not try to re-light or pick up a firework that does not go off or fully ignite
- Do not place any body part directly over a firework when lighting
- Do not throw or point fireworks at other people
- Keep water and/or a hose nearby in case of a fire or accident
- Do not carry fireworks in your pockets
- Soak any unused fireworks in water for several hours before throwing them away
- Soak any used fireworks with water from a bucket or hose before throwing them away
In Case of an Accident
If someone is injured by a firework, go to the doctor or emergency room immediately. Call your doctor or 911 right away to get additional instructions if you are unsure how to handle the injury while en route to a medical facility. Fireworks can be fun and festive, but they need to be handled correctly to keep everyone safe.
Enjoy your Fourth of July!