Ways to Be Safer with Fireworks This Summer
It’s summertime—time for picnics, ball games, parades, family reunions, barbecues and of course: fireworks!
Forty-seven states plus the District of Columbia legally allow some kind of fireworks. For many families, fireworks will be part of their summer celebrations.
Interestingly, all major safety organizations, including American Academy of Pediatrics, National Safety Council, and SafeKids, recommend that families leave fireworks to professionals and attend safety certified fireworks displays rather than purchasing commercial fireworks for their own use. Over 5,000 people are injured each year by fireworks, and 30% of those injured are children.
With that said, we realize that many families will still enjoy celebrations with their own fireworks. If your family is in this category, please take a few minutes to review some safety rules and tips that could make the difference between a safe celebration and one that ends in injury.
Purchase only legal fireworks, those that are labeled with the manufacturer’s name and that include safety precautions. Illegal fireworks are very dangerous. Never take apart legal fireworks and combine ingredients to create your own. Check city and state laws for fireworks. Most cities do not allow fireworks in city limits if they have projectiles or launching components, or if they have an audible report. Remember, alcohol and fireworks do not mix. People under the influence of alcohol or any mood-altering substance often make dangerous choices.
Young children should not handle fireworks. This includes the ever popular sparklers. Most parents don’t realize that a sparkler can reach a temperature of 1,200-2,000 degrees F. Young children have short arms, bringing these red hot pieces of metal dangerously close to little bodies. Letting little ones wave glow sticks is a much safer alternative; just remember that the chemicals inside glow sticks are toxic. If you allow your older children to use fireworks, they must be closely supervised.
More Safety Tips
- Anyone using fireworks should avoid loose, flowing clothing and should keep long hair tied back.
- Everyone should wear eye protection. Lightweight safety goggles are inexpensive and can prevent a life-changing eye injury.
- Always wear shoes to avoid stepping on a leftover firework that is still hot.
- Choose a safe place to shoot your fireworks—cement, sand, gravel or another non-flammable surface. Be sure there is no possibility that your fireworks will land in a flammable area—dry grass or trees, inside a building, etc.
- Keep fire extinguishing equipment nearby—buckets of water, sand, a fire extinguisher, a hose.
- When lighting fireworks, keep your face turned away from the fuse.
- Never hold or throw fireworks or light them inside glass or metal containers.
- Take turns lighting fireworks and be aware of where other people are standing.
- If your firework doesn’t go off, never try to relight it; douse it with water instead.
When your celebration is over, carefully collect the spent fireworks and put them in a bucket of water. Drain the next day and put in the trash. Don’t risk a garage fire by putting used fireworks directly in the garbage can. A smoldering piece of firework debris can come in contact with oxygen and ignite.
Last but not least, pick up after yourself. Whether you are on your own property or you use a public area or a gravel road for your fireworks, collect the paper and other garbage and dispose of it properly. Don’t leave it for your neighbor to pick up.
Here’s wishing you a fun, happy, and SAFE summer!