Fireworks were invented in China sometime in the 12th century as a means to scare away evil spirits. Today they are most popularly used to commemorate a special event or holiday. Whether it be a wedding, July 4th, New Year’s Eve, or just a friendly neighborhood BBQ, fireworks are enjoyed by both the young and old. Unfortunately, in some cases a celebration that includes a fireworks display can take a turn for the worse if safety measures are not in place.
In fact, the latest data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that 230 people on average go to the emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries in the month surrounding the July 4th holiday. According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC) fireworks can cause death and injury through burns, lacerations, and foreign objects in the eye. Moreover, almost 20,000 house fires are caused by fireworks each year, costing millions in property damage. Being aware of what can go wrong is the first step in preparing for a safe celebration.
In light of the potential dangers, parents need to be especially vigilant with their children around fireworks. Never leave children unsupervised or allow them to stand too close to fireworks. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that sparklers are the most common cause of fireworks-related injuries in children under five. Sparklers can light clothing and hair on fire and can heat up to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, hot enough to melt glass. A safer option for children are glow sticks or blinking trinkets which can be just as fun.
The best way to remain safe is to go to a public fireworks show put on by trained experts. However, when used responsibly by consumers fireworks that comply with CPSC regulations can be reasonably safe.
Follow these important tips to help you use fireworks safely:
- Only buy fireworks from reliable sellers (and only if they are legal in your state).¹
- Store fireworks in a cool, dry place, or follow other special storage directions.
- Carefully read and follow the instructions and warnings on the package.
- Adults should always supervise fireworks activities. Never allow young children to play with or light fireworks.
- Keep a bucket of water or garden hose, and a fire extinguisher nearby for emergencies.
- Wear protective eyewear.
- Light and set off fireworks one at a time in an area that is away from people, houses, dry leaves, or grass, and other flammable materials. Keep yourself and your children at a safe distance.
- Do not point or throw fireworks at anyone.
- Do not lean over a firework while lighting or wear loose clothing that can catch fire.
- Do not try to re-light defective fireworks. Soak them in water and throw them away.
- After the firework is lit, back up to a safe distance.
- After the firework is finished burning, douse the device with water before throwing it away.
- Do not experiment with homemade fireworks.
- Never use illegal fireworks such as M-80s, M-100s and blockbusters. Only purchase clearly-marked products.
- Call 911 if someone is injured.
As summer months approach, celebrations with firework displays will be common. Following our guidelines above, can help ensure that you and your loved ones have a good time and remain safe.
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