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Fireworks Safety

Jun 30, 2014

Fireworks are fun to watch, exciting to hear, and a wonderful way to mark a special occasion. Most people have fond memories of watching a dizzying display of starburst fireworks light up the night sky. Others, unfortunately, may recall a trip to the hospital emergency room because of a fireworks-related injury.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 11,400 fireworks-related injuries happened in 2013. Of these, 65 percent occurred in the 30 days surrounding July 4th. Last year, children younger than the age of 5 experienced a higher injury rate than other age groups.

Too Hot to Handle

Sparklers may be pretty to look at, but they are not appropriate for children. This popular firework accounts for one-third of injuries to children under 5 years old. Water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, wood burns at 575, and glass melts at 900. The tip of a sparkler, however, burns at more than 2,000 degrees, which is hot enough to cause third-degree burns.

The safest way to watch fireworks is at a professional show, not by setting off fireworks at home. When viewing a fireworks display, respect the safety barriers and select a safe viewing distance of at least 500 feet away. If you know someone who is planning a fireworks show of their own, you may want to share these safety tips:

  • sure fireworks are legal in your area.
  • Children should not be allowed to play with fireworks.
  • Watch children closely when setting off fireworks.
  • Only adults should light fireworks.
  • Keep an extinguisher, hose, or bucket of water nearby.
  • Do not light fireworks inside or near dry vegetation.
  • Do not pick up a firework that has not gone off. Do not try to relight it. Douse it with water and dispose of it.
  • Read the directions on fireworks before setting them off.
  • Stand several feet away from lit fireworks.
  • Do not light more than one firework at a time.
  • Do not wear loose-fitting clothing when lighting fireworks.

Not in My Backyard

Several states have banned the sale of fireworks to the public, including Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York. Federal law prohibits the sale of any firecracker that has more than 50 milligrams of explosive powder and any aerial firework with more than 130 milligrams of flash powder.

In addition to potential personal injury, fireworks can cause physical damage as well. Fireworks were associated with approximately 1,300 structure fires and 400 vehicle fires in 2009. More fires in the United States are reported on Independence Day than any other day of the year; fireworks cause half of these fires. For more information about fireworks safety, visit the National Fire Protection Association website at www.nfpa.org.

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