If you're like most Americans, you spend Independence Day celebrating with family and friends, grilling out, listening to loud music, enjoying an extra day off from work and maybe relaxing by a body of water...oh, and shooting off as many fireworks as you can get your hands on. From sparklers, smoke bombs, Saturn missiles to bottle rockets, roman candles and even large mortar shells, the Fourth of July offers plenty of opportunities for fun with fireworks - and if you're not careful - just as many opportunities for injury. Improper handling of fireworks could lead to all sorts of serious injuries and lasting consequences such as eye trauma and burns. It’s important to take the time to learn how to stay safe and happy in the presence of fireworks.
So before you run off to the nearest fireworks stand and load up on smoke bombs, fountains, and firecrackers, take a look at these firework safety tips to make sure you and your loved ones stay safe this holiday.
Firework Safety tips
1) Obey all local laws and regulations regarding fireworks
Cities, counties, and states have laws regarding fireworks in place for a reason. This time of year usually has a high risk of fire with all the dry brush, so before you set any off, make sure you're up-to-date on the rules. Check that they’re legal in your area. Rules change from year to year, so what was legal last year might not be legal this year. The penalties for breaking the rules can be severe. Most of the time, you can find local regulations online.
2) Read the label before lighting the fuse
Even if you think you know how to properly use a firework, read the instructions first. When it comes to explosives, it pays to know exactly what you're getting into and how to use them. Exclusively purchase consumer fireworks that are legal and sold through a licensed business. Acceptable legal fireworks are usually equipped with labels that are hard to miss. These labels often include details that relate to the brand and potential hazards. They frequently include information regarding correct use, too.
3) Always provide adult supervision for children
17 and younger Children should never be left alone with fireworks (even small, seemingly harmless ones). Make sure your children are properly supervised at all times by you or another adult you trust. Also, remember you can't even buy fireworks unless you are 18 or older and that includes lighting and handling the smoke bombs as well. If you’re searching for a safe alternative for kids, you should try glow sticks or try visiting a public fireworks display instead.
4) Wear appropriate clothing
You should never impulsively or spontaneously ignite any fireworks. You should wear a sturdy pair of safety glasses to help protect your eyes and vision. Last but not least, try to avoid wearing clothing that’s too loose. Refrain from ever placing fireworks inside of your pockets as friction can sometimes cause them to ignite. Imagine a firework exploding just centimeters from your leg...we'll just leave it at that. Not pretty!
5) Don't drink alcohol if you plan to use fireworks
This one is pretty self-explanatory. If you're shooting off fireworks, save the alcohol for after you've finished. Fireworks are dangerous enough without the use of alcohol. A large majority of accidents caused by fireworks are directly related to improper use or handling, and alcohol consumption can increase these risks. You want to make sure you are clear minded enough to know what to do in an emergency.
6) Light one firework at a time
You might think it's a great idea to tie a bunch of fuses together for one big bang, but we assure you, it's not. Only use fireworks as they were meant to be used - one at a time. Remember bigger isn't always better. Safety first before anything else.
7) Only light fireworks and sparklers in wide-open spaces and outdoors
Fireworks are an exclusively outdoor activity. Find a large, open space where even if a firework goes haywire, it's not going to cause any personal or property damage. Make sure it's clear of anything that could potentially catch fire and any dry brush. Remember, fireworks cause a significant number of fires on an annual basis.
8) Never try to relight a dud
If a firework doesn't light the first time, consider it a lost cause. Stay away from it for at least 20 minutes and when you do approach the dud, pour water over it immediately.
9) Always have a bucket of water or fire extinguisher close
You never know when a firework will explode unexpectedly, shoot off toward a dry patch of grass or end up in a neighbor's trashcan down the street. Keep a bucket of water or hose by your side for such occasions.
10) Soak your used fireworks before throwing them out
After shooting off your last firework of the evening, don't do what most people do and leave a pile of burnt up ashes and paper in the street. Gather up all everything, wet them down, and then throw them in a metal garbage can away from any combustible materials.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, an estimated 11,000 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries associated with fireworks in 2016. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, more than 3,000 children under the age of 15 (a third of all injuries) are sent to the emergency room each year in the United States because of fireworks.
You may think that those injuries come from misuse of big fireworks by inexperienced people. Most fireworks injuries are actually caused by firecrackers, bottle rockets and sparklers that are legal and easy for people to purchase in most states.
If you follow all these 10 firework safety tips, you'll be well on your way to a safe and fun holiday. Don't forget to order your smoke bombs now, so they get to you in time. Now go out and celebrate safely with your family and friends!