After a day of celebrating the Fourth of July with friends and family, nothing puts the finishing touches on America’s birthday quite like a fireworks display. These brilliant displays of light and sound trace back to the creation of the United States, as it was the founding fathers themselves who “launched” the tradition, lighting up the evening sky on the year anniversary of the signing of theDeclaration of Independence.
Today, 240 years later, the tradition continues, as millions of Americans will attend professional firework showcases at their nearest city or community on the first weekend of July.
But fireworks aren’t only available to the pros. Consumer fireworks are legal to buy in many parts of the country. When used as directed, fireworks can serve as a convenient alternative to public events, but unfortunately, accidents happen every year – many of them serious. In 2015, for instance, fireworks caused approximately 17,800 fires, including 1,200 structure fires and 400 car fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association. This led to $32 million in direct property damage, including homeowners insurance losses.
Firework-related injuries are also quite common. Every day, 240 people are admitted to the emergency room to treat burns and scalds stemming from firework accidents, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. As you might imagine, these injuries peak around the Fourth of July holiday.
The following safety tips can help ensure you use fireworks appropriately so that injury and property damage risk is avoided:
Obey all local laws
According to the American Pyrotechnic Association, 44 states and the District of Columbia allow some or all types of consumer fireworks. Three states prohibit them completely, those being Delaware, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. States’ laws regarding fireworks differ from one to the next, so be sure to reach out to your local legislator or check out the APA to see what the state laws are around fireworks before you buy or use them.
Follow directions closely
There’s a reason why there are directions – they’re meant to be followed. Before igniting fireworks or sparklers, make sure you read all cautionary labels and any accompanying instructions that the fireworks came with.
Launch in open space
It goes without saying, but make sure that your launch site for your fireworks is far away from areas where something that might catch fire, like a house, trees, leaves, buildings, or a bridge.
Never re-light the fuse
You may get a firework that’s a “dud,” meaning that despite holding a match to it, the burning fuse doesn’t cause the firework to ignite. If this happens, let it be, as re-lighting could lead to an explosion. Douse it with water, then wait 20 minutes or so before disposing it.
Keep away from children
Fireworks are inherently fascinating to young children, making them curious about how they work. When storing fireworks, ensure they’re kept somewhere away from where kids can’t access them. Also, explain to your child how dangerous fireworks can be and that they’re not toys.
Use common sense
As noted by the CPSC, burning fuses can reach temperatures of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which of course can cause serious scalding of the skin. When lighting a sparkler or firework, avoid behaviors that may lead to a potential accident, like smoking, for example. Alcoholic beverages should also be avoided.
Will you be traveling for 4th of July this weekend? As one of the busiest traffic times of the summer, make sure you’re prepared with our safe travel tips.