By Tim Cherry, Belvoir EagleJuly 3, 2013
Whether its intense burns or amputated limbs, the mishandling of fireworks can lead to life-threatening injuries.
The use of all types of fireworks is illegal on Fort Belvoir and safety is strongly encouraged for community members using the explosive objects off post, according to the Fort Belvoir Safety Office.
"If you're going to get fireworks, make sure that only responsible and knowledgeable adults operate them," said Chris McCormick, Installation Safety Office acting director.
Community members should store fireworks in a cool, dry place, according to McCormick.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission 2012 Fireworks Annual Report, fireworks were involved in an estimated 8,700 injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms in 2012. The need for safety is even more important with July 4th approaching. The CPSC study found that 60 percent of all fireworks injuries in 2012 were sustained during the one-month period from June 22 to July 22, 2012.
When ready for use, keep the fireworks away from any flammable areas. Set off fireworks outdoors in a clear location, away from people, houses, dry leaves, grass and other flammable materials. The igniter should never have any portion of their body directly over a firework while lighting.
Community members should keep a bucket of water nearby for emergencies and for pouring water on fireworks that fail to ignite or explode, said McCormick. Do not try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them with water and throw them away.
McCormick also emphasized the importance of safely handling sparklers, which accounted for 600 of the hospital visits in the CPSC study. Sparklers burn at a higher temperature than matches and they also burn at higher temperatures than baking a cake, or the melting point of glass and aluminum. Community members should wear closed-toe shoes, hold sparklers at an arm's length and remain six feet apart from other people. People shouldn't throw or run with sparklers, or hand already lit sparklers to another person. Throw sparklers away in a bucket of water after use.
McCormick also advises parents to keep sparklers and other handheld fireworks out of the hands of children. The CPSC study found that children younger than 15 years-old accounted for 30 percent of the estimated emergency room treatment. Children cannot understand the danger involved with fireworks and may not act appropriately while using the devices or in case of emergency, according to McCormick.
"Even in areas where it's legal, don't let kids handle them," McCormick said.
He emphasized that everyone understand the associated risk behind the use of fireworks. Intense burns, amputated limbs and death are all consequences community members should consider before lighting the match.
"There are some of them that have enough power to blow your finger off," said McCormick, who strongly recommends community members stay away from fireworks. "The best way to avoid accidents is to stay away from them … a good alternative to personal fireworks are the community displays."
For emergencies call (703) 781-1800. For more information on firework safety visit www.cpsc.gov/en/Newsroom/News-Releases/2013/New-CPSC-Fireworks-Injury-Data.