Summer is synonymous with barbeques, parades and fireworks. But along with all of the celebrations come injuries from fireworks. While many of the injuries come from amateurs attempting to use professional grade, homemade, or illegal fireworks or explosives, about half of fireworks injuries come from legal, less powerful devices. Fireworks are also responsible for thousands of home and other structural fires each year.
June, through July 4, is Fireworks Safety Month. The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to watch the professional displays in and around our communities. But if you are going to set off your own fireworks, please remember these tips:
Sparklers: Sparklers are often the first fireworks that children are allowed to do independently. However, sparklers are a lot more dangerous than most people think. The average sparkler burns at about 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt some metals. Sparklers can quickly ignite clothing, and many people, especially children, have received severe burns to their hands and/or feet (from dropping the sparkler).
Bottle Rockets: Teens have been known to have bottle rocket wars, firing them at one another and causing chest, head and eye injuries. Never aim a bottle rocket at another person.
Firecrackers: Firecrackers are designed to explode on the ground. They are designed to be noisy, but they can also cause burns and serious tissue injury if not used properly. Never pick up or attempt to re-light a “dud”.
Roman Candles: Roman candles eject multiple exploding shells from a tube the user sometimes opts to hold in his/her hand. There have been numerous reports of people losing fingers, being severely burned and sustaining other injuries (tissue damage). Place the Roman Candle on a flat, level surface, ignite and quickly move a safe distance away from the device.
M-Class Fireworks: Avoid them. M-80s, M-100s, M-250s. Avoid them. The unmistakable explosion associated with these devices can rattle the windows of homes for blocks. They are produced illegally and without quality control, have short fuses and cause hundreds of extremely severe injuries each year. Avoid them.
If you do chose to purchase legal fireworks, follow these safety tips:
- Never allow young children to handle fireworks
- Older children should use them only under close adult supervision
- Adult supervision means a sober adult who is giving his/her sole attention to the task of supervising
- Anyone using fireworks or standing nearby should wear protective eyewear
- Never light fireworks indoors
- Only use them away from people, houses and flammable materials
- Only light one device at a time and maintain a safe distance after lighting
- Do not try to re-light or manipulate malfunctioning (“dud”) fireworks
- Keep a bucket of water or a hose nearly to fully extinguish fireworks or in case of fire
But, remember, the best – and safest – idea is to grab a blanket or a lawn chair and head to the community fireworks display nearest you and let the experts handle it. You just “ooohhh” and “aaahhhh” and enjoy the show.