A Prescription for Firework Safety
July 3, 2017 at 5:58 pm
As we gear up for Independence Day celebrations, we encourage you to be mindful of firework safety to prevent our families from getting hurt.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), approximately 11,100 people were treated in U.S. emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries in 2016. The majority of these occurred between June 18 and July 18 – about 250 ER visits every day. A total of four people died as a result of direct impact from fireworks.
In the breakdown by age, children younger than 15 years accounted for 31% of all fireworks injuries. And even more heartbreaking is the fact that children under the age of 5 are at the second highest risk of injury, behind young adults ages 20 to 24.
What makes fireworks dangerous?
Popular at-home fireworks cause a large percentage of fireworks injuries. In 2016, firecrackers accounted for approximately 1,300 ER visits during the month surrounding July Fourth; sparklers accounted for 900; and bottle rockets came in at 400.
According to the 2016 CPSC report, the majority of injuries – 69% of ER visits in the month surrounding the holiday – are due to burns. This comes as no surprise: fireworks reach temperatures as high as 1800 °F (1000 °C), about 9 times hotter than boiling water.
The majority of reported injuries are due to misuse or malfunctioning fireworks. Misuse includes setting off fireworks improperly, mischief, placing and lighting off fireworks inside of your body part, and lighting fireworks in your hand. Malfunctions include tip-over accidents, errant flight paths, short fuses, blow-outs, and fragments.
Firework Safety Tips
To prevent these types of injuries, here are a few tips for using fireworks safely:
- Consider going to a public fireworks display instead of celebrating at home. Only 4% of injuries resulting in ER visits in 2016 resulted from public displays – it’s the non-professionals at home who are at the highest risk for injury. Besides, at a public display you can enjoy your friends and family while creating memories with your entire community.
- Never let young children light off fireworks, and always have adult supervision. Remember that children under the age of 15 account for one-third of ER visits due to fireworks. Fireworks are explosive devices – and they can be unpredictable.
- Keep your distance. Make sure that no part of your body is over the firework when lighting the fuse. Never hold a lit firework in your hand or carry unlit ones in your pocket. Light them one at a time, and move away quickly. This helps keep you safe even if there is a malfunction, tip-over, or short fuse.
- Use fireworks as directed. Before using fireworks, make sure they are legal in your area and that you’ve read the directions on the packaging. Most will tell you exactly how to place them for the safest use, even showing which side faces the ground. And, just as you shouldn’t put yourself in the path of a firework, never point or throw fireworks at someone else.
- Keep water handy in case of accidents. If there is a small fire or another mishap, having a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby means you can put it out before someone gets hurt. You can even prevent trash fires by dousing spent fireworks before throwing them away.
However you choose to celebrate this Fourth of July, we hope you’ll keep these tips in mind for a happy and safe holiday.