Fireworks displays are synonymous with the month of July, and this week’s 4th of July holiday will bring families from all over the country together to celebrate Independence Day. Aside from gathering for BBQ and pool parties, the #1 activity families often participate in happens to be watching fireworks displays; whether at a private residence or attending a professional show. These intricate displays are meant to celebrate our country in a most dazzling fashion. While firework shows have always been one of the most anticipated summer events, it’s important to become educated on firework-safety, and understand why these displays are best left to the professionals.
Shaked Law Firm puts safety first!
Within this informational writeup, the Shaked Law Resource will help educate families on firework safety, while still enjoying the exciting fireworks displays sure to be a hit come Thursday evening. For most people, fireworks, a BBQ, and a cold beverage (for more on safe, legal drinking practices, the Shaked Law Resource has published DUI Accident Cases Pose Serious, Costly Civil Liability) is how the 4th will be celebrated. Keep reading for all the information necessary for a safe and healthy 4th of July!
- Why are amateur fireworks displays so dangerous?
- Who should handle fireworks displays?
- What are the consequences of illegal fireworks?
- What’s the connection between unsupervised children and fireworks accidents?
Why are amateur fireworks displays so dangerous?
Each summer hundreds, even thousands of Americans suffer severe and life threatening burn injuries while attempting to put on backyard fireworks displays. ERs report huge spikes in burn patients on the 4th of July and the days leading up to and after the actual holiday. These injuries range from small, minor burns to severe, 3rd degree burn injuries that sometimes require extensive grafting surgery and in the most severe cases, amputations have resulted from improper handling of fireworks.
The inherent problem with fireworks, sparklers, firecrackers, and any flammable device used for entertainment is that all of these products are dangerous explosives. In most states, there are at least some laws surrounding the purchase and subsequent detonation of these dangerous products. The state of Florida‘s law states that the only fireworks permitted to be used by non-commercial residents are “safe and sane” fireworks that: “[…]do not explode or fly through the air.” Depending on which county you reside, the laws vary. Always check with your local officials for regulations specific to where you live.
Who should handle fireworks displays?
First, and most importantly, it should be understood that fireworks should only be handled by pyrotechnical professionals during professional displays. This is because while firework shows are some of the most entertaining, dazzling displays to watch, they’re extremely dangerous to attempt to put on ourselves as amateurs that lack the necessary safety training to handle these explosives. Each and every year, there are people who consider themselves capable enough to create one of these astonishing feats in the sky themselves, only for the night to end in the ER, injured, and with medical bills piling up. The inherent danger in these explosives comes from improper handling. While the Shaked Law Resource will not attempt to address how to directly handle fireworks, we will address the safety measures surrounding them¹ in the next section.
Fireworks safety guidelines
The American Pyrotechnics Association² provides excellent advice for safe firework handling; to summarize the APA’s guidelines:
- Never consume alcohol if you’re planning to handle fireworks during the evening. Accidents occur more frequently under the influence.
- Consumers should only purchase fireworks deemed legal in their state. Illegal fireworks can not only result in fines, but can severely injure or cause fatalities.
- Never attempt to carry a firework, firecracker, or sparkler around inside a jacket or pants pocket; never leave a firework, firecracker, or sparkler in any kind of glass or metal container.
- All spectators should be kept at a distance so as not to be in the line of fire, should the firework or sparkler malfunction. Children should never be close to, or allowed to handle fireworks.
- It’s highly recommended and encouraged that amateurs only light one firework at a time.
- NEVER, ever try to relight a firework that doesn’t light the first time. After 20 minutes, douse the device with water and throw it away. No firework is worth someone’s life!
What are the consequences of illegal fireworks and fireworks displays?
Also, those handling fireworks should recognize the risk they run in doing so. Fines and in some cases even jail time for retailers who choose to sell these items to the public, and for those who illegally use them can result when the law is broken. Remember: the laws keep everyone safe, and are there for a reason. Never act recklessly, endangering others if you’re unsure of the proper handling of flammable or explosive products. Fun is still possible while obeying state, federal, and local laws.
What’s the connection between unsupervised children and fireworks accidents?
For children, fireworks are exciting, new, and full of wonder. However, for adults who are there to supervise minors, it’s important to take this responsibility seriously. Consuming alcohol when put in charge of the safety of minors is not only unreasonable, but it could result in a slew of legal problems should a minor become injured in their care. Most importantly, the safety of minors should never be considered optional or secondary to anything else. When something as dangerous as fireworks is involved cell phones should be put away and any other distractions should be kept to a minimum.
Stay alert, and keep eyes on minors at all times. Allowing children anywhere near fireworks is a tragedy waiting to happen. Only sober, competent adults who understand how these explosives are meant to work should handle the at-home fireworks display. Having all minors stand a safe distance away from the display that’s going to occur is a must. An adult should be present to supervise young children at all times, keeping a close eye on each child and ensuring they don’t run off in an attempt to “help” mom or dad put on the big show.
Quick tips for a safe 4th of July
- Keep a bucket of water nearby at all times; this is both for soaking used fireworks and for putting out a fire in the event of an emergency.
- Keep all metal and glass objects away from fireworks, sparklers, and firecrackers. Furthermore, do not place fireworks, firecrackers, or sparklers in glass or metal containers.
- Never attempt to create homemade fireworks. This isn’t science class, and these homemade explosives WILL have deadly results!
- Always wear safety glasses or goggles when handling fireworks.
- If you’re traveling for the Fourth, never attempt to bring legally purchased firecrackers or fireworks in your baggage. These are strictly prohibited in every airport across the world. Check the laws in the state you’re planning to travel to, and purchase upon arrival. Ignoring this warning can result in extreme consequences and heavy jail time.
- Read all instruction labels and warnings on firework packaging before using them.