Today we celebrate Independence Day which commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. Since Congress authorized the first fireworks display in 1777 to celebrate the 4th of July, Americans have reveled in celebrating the day with grand fireworks displays. Not only do we go to see our town celebrations, we also like to shoot off fireworks at our homes.
However, fireworks can be dangerous. According to the National Fire Protection Association, about 9,600 people were treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms in 2011 for fireworks-related injuries. About 61% of these injuries were to the extremities – hands, arms, legs and feet.
Therefore, it’s important that you know how to safely and responsibly use consumer fireworks to reduce your risk of injuries. So, before you light that bottle rocket, read these fireworks safety tips:
- Find out if the buying and use of fireworks is legal in your area.
- Purchase fireworks from a reputable retailer of legal fireworks.
- Read the safety guidelines and warnings on the fireworks wrapper before you light them.
- Never shoot off fireworks in windy conditions. Or, make sure the wind is blowing away from spectators.
- Wear eye protection when lighting fireworks.
- Protect your feet with closed-toe shoes. Fireworks can fall over and shoot sparks in your direction causing burns.
- Keep a fire extinguisher, water hose or bucket of water close by in the event of fire.
- Identify one person who will be in charge of the fireworks.
- Set fireworks on a hard, flat and level surface when lighting them.
- Don’t lean over the firework when lighting it. Try to stand back as far as possible from the firework when lighting it.
- Never light more than one firework at a time.
- Don’t light fireworks near people, homes, dry grass or other combustible materials.
- Never set off fireworks inside of a building.
- Don’t hold a lit firework in your hand. There have been several cases where people have had their fingers or hand blown off.
- Fireworks and alcohol use can result in injuries. So don’t drink and use fireworks.
- Use common sense at all times when using fireworks.
- Never let small children handle or light fireworks.
- Make sure everyone watching the fireworks stays 25 to 40 feet away from ground-based fireworks and even further for aerial fireworks.
- Remember small children and pets can be afraid of loud noises. So plan accordingly, if they need to be taken to a quiet area.
- Beware of the tips of burning sparklers. Burning sparkler tips can reach temperatures of 1200°F and can cause third-degree burns.
- Always wait at least 20 minutes after lighting a firework to check on it if it didn’t ignite.
- Never relight a firework that didn’t go off.
- Dump un-ignited fireworks in a bucket of water.
- Make sure all fireworks are cold before throwing them in a trash can.
- Do not store fireworks long term. Use them all up after buying them.
Fireworks can be beautiful to watch, but you always need to keep safety in mind. To avoid injury, it’s always best to leave fireworks to the professionals.
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