Firework Safety

There”s no time like the 4th of July for fireworks. But there”s also no time like Independence Day for fireworks injuries. The fact is, fireworks are explosives, not toys, and they can be dangerous.

On all occasions, everyone, even the top professionals who put on commercial firework displays, must treat fireworks with great care and respect. The same applies just as much, if not more, to amateurs or “consumers” who want to have some fun and celebrate Old Glory on July Fourth.

Fireworks accidents happen too often. Remember this: fireworks can cause great harm to those who don”t understand how to use them. Consider these facts from 2003:

  • About 9,300 individuals nationwide were treated in US emergency rooms for fireworks injuries and burns.
  • Children 14 and younger accounted for some 45% of those injuries.
  • Some 72% of the children who were injured were boys.
  • Two thirds of the injuries happened in the days surrounding the fourth of July.

(Source: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.)

Fireworks Dos and Don”ts

Before anything else, if you”re planning a fireworks display of your own, check with your local fire and police departments to make sure that such an event is legal. If it is, then follow these basic and vitally important DOs and DONTs to avoid fireworks injuries:

Dos of Firework Safety:

  • Do store your fireworks in a safe, cool place, away from sources of heart.
  • Do keep a bucket of water on hand for emergencies.
  • Do go to the biggest possible open space to enjoy the festivities.
  • Do have only adults involved directly with fireworks.
  • Do buy your fireworks only from reliable sellers.
  • Do remove all flammable or combustible materials from the area.
  • Do check the wind direction and be aware of any changes.
  • Do wear eye/ear/face/head protection at all times.

Firework Safety DON”Ts:

  • Don”t try to reignite fireworks that didn”t light the first time. Instead, wait 15 to 20 minutes and then soak them in a bucket of water.
  • Don”t give fireworks to small children.
  • Don”t throw fireworks directly at another person.
  • Don”t experiment with or modify your fireworks.
  • Don”t wear loose clothes (they can catch fire).
  • Don”t purchase, accept or try illegal explosives.
  • Don”t ignite aerial fireworks near trees, telephone lines, overhead wires or any obstruction.
  • Don”t light fireworks in a heavy wind.

From the smallest consumer fireworks displays to the largest, the Dos and Don”ts specified above should always be followed. In addition, if you have a large crowd enjoying your private display, please pay attention to these special considerations:

  • The local fire department is probably responsible for safety. Check with them for any specific details or guidelines on private fireworks displays.
  • Make sure all spectators obey all safety regulations and keep a close eye on guests who may be drinking alcohol.
  • Don”t let spectators get too close.
  • Sparklers, fountains and other small fireworks should be used only in an established “non-pedestrian” zone.