Each year, in the month surrounding the Fourth of July, nearly 300 people are seen daily in U.S. emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). There were about 15,600 injuries and at least 18 deaths in 2020 alone, an increase of 50% from the prior year. This is despite ongoing consumer education about the dangers of fireworks.
Males have a higher rate of injuries than girls, 70% to 30%, respectively, reveals the CPSC. Kids and young adults under the age of 20 account for roughly 50% of the injuries. That said, adults 20 to 44 years of age constitute 43% of fireworks-related injuries, indicating that even adults need more education on fireworks safety.
The Alliance To Stop Consumer Fireworks, coordinated by the National Fire Protection Association, urges the public to play it safe. Forego the use of fireworks and instead enjoy fireworks displays conducted by trained professionals. Although this seems like sound advice, it isn’t a recommendation everyone will abide by.
So, keep in mind the following safety tips recommended by such organizations as The National Council on Fireworks Safety, Safe Kids Worldwide and the National Safety Council:
Abide by local laws regarding fireworks.
Read all of the information that comes with the fireworks before igniting them. If no information is available, research online.
Don’t allow young children to handle fireworks. Sparklers heat up to 2,000 degrees and are responsible for serious injuries every year.
Always closely supervise older children using fireworks.
Have a hose or bucket of water nearby in case of fire or to fully extinguish fireworks that don’t go off.
Never try to re-light a firework that doesn’t work. Wait 20 minutes, then soak it in a bucket of water.
Never shoot fireworks out of glass or metal containers.
Don’t use homemade fireworks.
Wear safety glasses when shooting off fireworks.
Don’t carry fireworks in your pocket.
Never aim fireworks toward another person or animal.
Light them one at a time and then move away quickly.
Don’t drink or use drugs before or while igniting fireworks.
Let off fireworks only in clear areas and away from buildings and vehicles.
Keep fireworks stored in a cool place.
Keep pets and animals away from the sound of the fireworks.
Finally, camera phones, combined with the popularity of social media, have encouraged fireworks pranks. Kids, and even some adults, think they can safely prank a friend or family member by igniting a firework in close range. The risk of injury is high with these pranks. So, make sure children and teens understand the danger these pranks pose and that they shouldn’t be attempted under any circumstance. This will help ensure a safe, happy Fourth of July for all.
Kimberly Blaker is a freelance writer. She also owns an online bookshop, Sage Rare and Collectible Books, specializing in out-of-print, scarce, signed and first editions and more at sagerarebooks.com