It’s the first of July and news sources are already reporting injuries caused by fireworks, such as the devastating damage to a ten-year-old boy’s hand after finding 14 pounds of fireworks in his home. His father has been arrested for possession of illegal fireworks and child endangerment. In another incident, a Michigan man suffered burns in an explosion while trying to make homemade fireworks.
Medics, police, burn centers and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), are urging everyone to use fireworks with care. According to the CPSC, fireworks injuries are on the rise. Last year there were eight deaths and 11,400 injuries related to fireworks, a significant increase from the 8,700 injuries in 2012. CPSC reviewed fireworks related incident reports and other documents and concluded that they are frequently the result of the user playing with lit fireworks or igniting fireworks while holding the apparatus. Consumers also reported injuries when the devices malfunctioned or did not work as expected, such as wild flight paths, tipping over and blowouts.
The majority of injuries come from sparklers and bottle rockets, as these devices are perceived as less powerful and consumers are comfortable holding them in their hands and handing them off to children. Fireworks become deadly when banned, professional and home-manufactured devices are involved, as was the case in each of the eight recorded fireworks related deaths in 2013.
The safest way to enjoy fireworks is from afar watching a public display conducted by professionals. (For a list of public fireworks displays in Washington State click here) However, if you decide to handle them yourself, here are some tips to help you stay as safe as possible:
- Make sure the fireworks you want to buy are legal before buying or using them.
- Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from the reach of children.
- Do not attempt to make or alter any fireworks device.
- Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks, including sparklers. You may not realize that sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees and many children enter the ER with sparkler related burns every year.
- Always have an adult close by to supervise fireworks activities if older children are allowed to handle fireworks.
- Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper, which is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and could pose a danger to consumers.
- Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
- Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
- Never try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them with water and throw them away.
- Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
- Light fireworks one at a time, then move away from them quickly.
- Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
- After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding the device to prevent a trash fire.
For more information about firework safety, you can view the handy infographic the CPSC has created.
Also, remember to keep your pets indoors as the sound of fireworks can spook them easily.