Fireworks are as synonymous with Summer as watermelon and swimming pools. By the second week of June, you’re sure to see firework tents popping up by the side of the road, hoping their giant American flags will be enough to convince you to stock up for the Fourth of July. Most of us have memories from childhood that involve handheld sparklers in the backyard. Maybe your dad even launched The Big Ones from the middle of your street while neighbors looked on. There is certainly nothing wrong with wanting to experience an Americana Independence Day. However, every year fireworks cause thousands of ER visits on or around the Fourth of July, and an estimated 15,600 fires. (Fires from Fireworks)
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) goes so far as to say that families should only view professional firework shows and avoid launching any kind of pyrotechnics at home. (Summer Safety Tips) (It’s hard to argue with the evidence) If you must put on your own show, here is how the National Council on Firework Safety (fireworkssafety.org) recommends you and your family stay safe:
- Obey all local laws regarding the use of fireworks.Obviously those laws are in place for a reason. This is especially important in densely populated areas.
- Know your fireworks; read the cautionary labels and performance descriptions before igniting.Don’t just assume you know what you’re doing. Last year my husband launched a “small” roman candle-type firework in our backyard, but failed to secure it properly. The result was that it tipped onto its side and started firing in all directions in the backyard, where we were standing.
- A responsible adult SHOULD supervise all firework activities. Never give fireworks to children.This includes sparklers! Handheld sparklers may seem harmless, but they reach temperatures upwards of 1,000 degrees and can cause serious burns. (Summer Safety Tips)
- Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Save your alcohol for after the show.For obvious reasons.
- Wear safety glasses when shooting fireworks.Over half of eye-related firework injuries are caused by bottle rockets. (Backyard Fireworks) After ignition, they take erratic paths that can in no way be predicted. Make sure to wear eye protection!
- Light one firework at a time and then quickly move away.DO NOT try to be the Coolest Parent on the block by lighting several large fireworks at once. You have no idea how quickly the fuses will burn down and they could easily go off while you are close by.
- Use fireworks OUTDOORS in a clear area; away from buildings and vehicles.I can’t think of one reason to light a firework inside.
- Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.There’s a reason that it didn’t go off to begin with. Don’t try to force it.
- Always have a bucket of water and charged water hose nearby.Just in case.
- Never carry fireworks in your POCKET or shoot them into METAL or GLASS containers.Who is carrying fireworks in their pockets? Please don’t let that be you.
- Do not experiment with homemade fireworks.You don’t know how to make fireworks.
- Dispose of spent fireworks by wetting them down and place in a metal trash can away from any building or combustible materials until the next day.
- FAA regulations PROHIBIT the possession and transportation of fireworks in your checked baggage or carry-on luggage.This is way worse than carrying them in your pocket. PLEASE do not transport firecrackers via airplane under any circumstances.
- Report illegal explosives, like M-80s and quarter sticks, to the fire or police department.
- If you have a pet, make sure they are wearing an ID tag should they get spooked by the noise and run off. If you are able, place them in an inner room in your house so that they don’t here the fireworks going off.
Even if you follow all of these recommendations, remember that fireworks are dangerous and that injuries can still occur! A 2006 study found that in over half of childhood firework-related injuries, the parents were standing nearby and had not done anything intentionally negligent. (Backyard Fireworks)We want everyone to have a wonderful and SAFE Summer of fun! Happy 4th of July!