By Alicia Couch Payne

The Fourth of July is right around the corner along with the day’s long fireworks, including the injuries stemming from the public’s use of fireworks.

Independence Day holiday keeps our nation’s first responders busy.  According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2017 at least eight people died and approximately 12,900 were injured to the point of having to seek medical treatment following fireworks-related incidents.  

According to the National Fire Protection Association, fireworks on Independence Day caused 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires, and nearly 17,000 other fires which resulted in thousands of injuries last year.

The National Safety Council among other organizations strongly urges people to forego using fireworks themselves and leave that up to the professionals.  They encourage people to go see the numerous public fireworks displays that are put on by professionals.

The use of less powerful fireworks like sparklers, bottle rockets, firecrackers, and roman candles are also discouraged. Sparklers have been known to ignite clothing and can cause severe burns if dropped onto a child’s foot. Most parents are unaware that sparklers burn at a temperature of about 2,000 degrees.  This is hot enough to melt certain metals.

Bottlerockets have been used by teens and others in horseplay for years. Throughout the year’s dozens of reports have been made about people sustaining serious chest, head, and eye injuries as a result of being fired at during this horseplay.

Incidents involving roman candles have caused children to lose fingers, suffer severe burns, and other injuries.  Firecrackers though mostly nothing more than a noise maker have been known to cause severe burns and other injuries as well.  M-class explosives like M 80s and M 100s are illegally produced explosives that are not regulated by the government and are highly unpredictable making the chance for injury increase substantially.

If you insist on using fireworks this Independence Day, please keep the following safety tips* in mind.

  • Never use fireworks wrapped in plain brown paper.  These are for professionals only.
  • Never use fireworks while impaired by drugs or alcohol
  • Never allow young children to handle fireworks
  • Older children should use them only under close adult supervision
  • Anyone using fireworks or standing nearby should wear protective eyewear
  • Never light them indoors
  • Only use them away from people, houses and flammable material
  • Only light one device at a time and maintain a safe distance after lighting
  • Never ignite devices in a container
  • Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks
  • Soak unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don’t go off or in case of fire
  • Keep pets locked safely inside.  

Be smart and follow these tips to keep you and your loved ones safe during your 4th of July celebration.

*Safety tips were compiled from the Public Safety Council’s website and the National Fire Protection Association.

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