On the Fourth of July each year, night skies across America erupt in bursts of dazzling fireworks’ masterpieces, punctuated by oohs and aahs of appreciation. This annual Independence Day spectacle, however, also brings with it thousands of injuries – many of which are severe – some even fatal. But with a little precaution and attention, you can prevent these.
Consider these firework-related-injury statistics:
- In the month surrounding the July 4th holiday, 240 people – on average – are treated daily in emergency rooms nationwide for fireworks-caused injuries.
- More than 9,000 fireworks-related injuries occur each year.
- One-fourth of fireworks eye injuries result in permanent vision damage or complete blindness.
- For children under the age of 5, seemingly harmless sparklers are responsible for one-third of fireworks injuries. Sparklers can burn at 2,000-degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to burn copper.
- The risk of being injured by fireworks is highest for those ages 15 through 24, followed by children under 10.
Injuries to people – particularly those of the pint-sized variety – are the most critical threat posed by fireworks, but it’s also worth noting that fireworks are responsible for some 17,800 fires annually. In addition to racking up millions of dollars in property damage each year, these fires also harm humans, accounting for 40 injuries.
In an effort to eradicate the injuries to people, as well as damage to property, June has been designated National Fireworks Safety Month. The goal is to educate the public regarding fireworks dos and don’ts, so – come the Fourth of July – all will celebrate an Independence Day free of injuries.
Fireworks Safety Tips
As a starting point, experts urge the public to attend professional fireworks displays, rather than staging home-fireworks shows.
In communities where fireworks are legal, it’s a simple fact that there will be people who insist on transforming their backyards into dangerous launch pads. With this reality in mind – and with an eye toward preventing injuries – the following safety precautions are recommended:
- Children should not be allowed to light, hold, or be near fireworks – including sparklers. Any fireworks activities should be managed entirely by adults.
- Only purchase fireworks from a licensed store or stand; never modify purchased fireworks, or buy fireworks being sold out of a home, vehicle, or on the street.
- Do not purchase fireworks that are packaged in brown paper, as this often is an indication that they were made for professional displays or were made illegally. Legal fireworks – which are regulated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission – are packaged in bright colors and have clearly visible safety warnings.
- When lighting a firework’s fuse, never place any part of your body directly over the device. Those lighting fireworks also are urged to wear safety glasses.
- After lighting the firework, back up a safe distance, and never attempt to re-light or pick up a firework that failed to ignite fully.
- Fireworks should never be pointed or thrown at another person.
- A bucket of water – or a garden hose – should always be nearby when fireworks are being Once fireworks have completed burning, drench with water before discarding.
- Fireworks should only be lit one at a time, and should not be shot of in metal or glass containers. Be sure to read all directions before igniting a firework.
- Do not carry fireworks in a pocket, purse, or backpack.
- Alcohol and fireworks are a potentially lethal combination. Adults who are overseeing home-fireworks displays should refrain from drinking.
The Fourth of July can and should be a day of patriotic celebration, and one that is absolutely free of fireworks injuries and damage.