This 4th of July, Protect Yourself Against Fireworks Injuries
The upcoming 4th of July holiday brings families from all over the country together to celebrate America. Aside from food, the number one activity families participate in together is watching firework displays. These intricate displays are meant to celebrate our Independence Day in a big and extravagant way. While firework shows are a can't-miss summer event, it's important to educate yourself and your family on firework-safety, should you choose to put on your own firework show for friends and family.
Each summer hundreds, even thousands of Americans are injured when they attempt to put on a backyard firework show in their neighborhoods all across the country. Emergency Rooms report spikes in patients on 4th of July weekends and the days before and after the holiday. These injuries range from near-miss minor burns to severe burn injuries that sometimes require extensive surgery and in the most severe cases, there have been reports of amputations.
The inherent danger in fireworks, sparklers, and firecrackers is that they're all 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.
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 in attempt to have a good time. Fun can be had by all while obeying state, federal, and local laws.
Within this informational article, the Shaked Law Blog wants to help educate families around the country how to remain safe during this 4th of July holiday, while still enjoying the exciting displays of fireworks sure to be a hit with kids and parents alike come Wednesday evening. For most people, barbecue, an ice-cold beverage, and a fireworks display with family is how the holiday will be celebrated. So read on to educate yourself and your loved ones on how to enjoy everyone's favorite summer holiday safely.
Fireworks are beautiful to watch, dangerous to touch
While fireworks displays are some of the most beautiful sights we can look up to the clear summer sky and witness, they're equally as dangerous to attempt ourselves. 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 Blog will not attempt to address how to directly handle fireworks, we will address the safety measures surrounding them¹.
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!
Unsupervised children and accidents are a tragic hand-in-hand
For children, fireworks are exciting, new, and full of wonder. 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.
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, FUN FOURTH
- 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.
²Admin, MemberClicks. “Backyard Fireworks Tips.” American Pyrotechnics Association, www.americanpyro.com/backyard-fireworks-tips.