June is Fireworks Safety Month: Be Aware and Stay Safe
Independence Day and fireworks are virtually synonymous; however, fireworks can be quite dangerous. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), in the month around the 4th of July, on average, 250 people are treated in emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries.
Fireworks are a wonderful way to mark the opening or closing of a large event, to draw crowds to festivals and concerts, and to commemorate special holidays and other events. In the U.S., fireworks are especially popular on Independence Day, and there are myriad safe and professional fireworks displays held across the country. Nevertheless, because of their legality in many areas and wide availability, many people enjoy purchasing and lighting their own fireworks, and this is where potential problems arise.
June 1st through July 4th is National Fireworks Safety Month. This campaign seeks to educate those who use fireworks on the potential danger and injuries which can arise due to unsafe, negligent, and careless behavior and to improve safety—and fun—for all.
Types of fireworks
Legal fireworks come in all shapes and sizes—from sparklers, snaps, confetti shooters, smoke bombs, and snakes for kids to Roman candles, firecrackers, fountains, rockets, artillery fireworks, and other novelties for adults.
There are also illegal fireworks, labeled as such due to the lack of quality control and their oftentimes shorter fuses. Generally, these are any that begin with an “M” such as the M-80 and M-120, as well as cherry bombs.
Simply because a firework is labeled as suitable for children does not mean it is safe. In fact, sparklers—the most popular and common “safer” firework for kids—is one of the most dangerous as it burns at a whopping 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Serious injuries and fires have been attributed to sparklers.
Of course, when handled properly, these fireworks are dazzling and fun—and safe.
Types of injuries
Fireworks have the potential to cause serious injury. Among the most common injuries are burns on the hands which can range from minor to blistered to third-degree burns, the latter of which can cause serious damage to the skin. Additional hand injuries include abrasions, cuts, broken bones, torn tendons, and amputations. These injuries are largely caused by holding onto a firework when it is lit or standing too close when one explodes.
Eye, ear, and facial injuries are also common due to the particles emitted through the air after the firework has exploded. In fact, fireworks-related eye injuries have more than doubled—from 600 in 2011 to 1,300 in 2014. Hearing loss is another potential danger that can be temporary or permanent.
The CPSC specifies several do’s and don’ts regarding fireworks. While many of these tips are common sensical, many people, unwisely, choose to ignore them.
For safe fireworks handling, it is important to:
- Have an adult supervise all firework activities
- Wear safety glasses
- Use fireworks outside in an open area
- Keep a bucket of water or hose nearby and douse spent fireworks before discarding them
- Have a first aid kit handy
- Avoid buying fireworks packaged in brown paper as these are frequently reserved for professional displays
- Light fireworks one at a time
- Ensure fireworks are legal in your area
Conversely, it is also crucial to never:
- Allow young children to handle fireworks
- Light fireworks in a container or carry them in a pocket
- Mix alcohol or drugs with fireworks
- Place any part of your body near a firework when lighting it
- Try to relight fireworks that didn’t fully ignite
Just remember—especially during Fireworks Safety Month—the importance of discussing the dangers of fireworks with everyone, especially children. Remain vigilant, use fireworks correctly, and dispose of them properly.
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