Follow these firework safety tips and you will decrease your chances of becoming one of the almost 10,000 Americans who are injured by fireworks each year. Of these injuries, 64 percent take place between June 22-July 22.
Use Legal Fireworks
An important first step in practicing safety measures while using fireworks is to make sure you only use legal fireworks. Of the almost 10,000 Americans hospitalized for fireworks related injuries last year, those with the most serious injuries were as the result of lighting illegal fireworks or those intended for professional displays. Do your homework to find out what constitutes legal fireworks where you live. In the terms of fireworks, the definition of "legal" varies from one state to another and your county government may also have firework restrictions in place.
Injuries Caused by Fireworks
It won't surprise you to learn that most firework-related injuries involve the hands and fingers. This accounts for 38 percent of fireworks injuries. Another 19 percent involve the eyes, and almost 50 percent of the wounds are burns. As if these injuries aren't devastating enough, to really put it into perspective, fireworks can be life threatening if not handled properly, and they are also a fire hazard.
Top Causes of Fireworks Injuries
It's easy to become complacent and think those sparklers and bottle rockets are safe. But are they?
Class C firecrackers, Roman candles, bottle rockets sparklers and fountains cause around two thirds of fireworks injuries. (These are illegal in many states, so be sure to check your local and state ordinances).
- Firecrackers - 51 percent
- Bottle rockets - 12 percent
- Sparklers - 7 percent
Illegal fireworks account for another 29 percent of fireworks injuries.
Firework Safety Tips to Keep You Safe
Once you know which fireworks to buy, enjoy them while following these practical firework safety tips designed to keep you, your family, friends and pets safe. To start, the safest way to enjoy a fireworks display is to visit one put on by professions who are trained to handle the fireworks safely. However, if you plan to host your own fireworks celebration, put the following firework safety tips into practice:
- Consider your pets when planning to shoot off fireworks. If you have a pet that may chase a fast moving target, or a pet that will be frightened, put them in the house to keep them safe until the display is over.
- Don't assume you know how to use the fireworks. Read the directions and warning labels. If there are no directions or warning label, don't use them.
- Don't carry fireworks in your pocket.
- Don't drink alcohol and light fireworks.
- Don't let children light fireworks unless under supervision. Boys between the ages of 10-14 are injured more than any other age and gender group. In general, 40 percent of people injured by fireworks are children under the age of 14.
- Don't light fireworks indoors.
- Don't light fireworks on or near dry grass.
- Don't shoot fireworks off in a glass or metal container.
- Don't throw fireworks at people.
- Don't wear clothes that are loose-fitting.
- Fireworks should be kept in a cool, dry place.
- For the sake of child safety only children above the age of 12 should be allowed to handle sparklers
- Keep a bucket of water or a fire extinguisher handy.
- Keep "spectators" at a safe distance
- Once you light the firework, move several feet away from it.
- Only light one fireworks device at a time.
- Only use fireworks legal in your area.
- Purchase fireworks from a reliable dealer.
- Wear safety goggles while lighting fireworks.
- When a fireworks device fails to go off, don't stand above it to see what's wrong. Douse it with water and dispose of it. Don't try to relight it.
Added Safety Reminders
- Launch rockets from a rocket launcher not from a bottle
- While sparklers seem to be non-threatening, in actuality they burn at more than 1000 degrees.
- Educate your children about firework safety.
- Educate yourself about how fireworks are classed so you understand their power and size.
- Use fireworks in accordance to local and state laws.