By Mamie Carlson, Program Evaluation Consultant, U.S. Army Public Health CommandJuly 1, 2015
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (July 1, 2015) -- Fireworks are a summer tradition and inspire the "oohs" and "aahs" of millions every year. Although fireworks are a thrilling way to celebrate the majesty of our great nation, they can also cause pain, injury and even death.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, or CPSC, during the 30 days surrounding Independence Day, an average of 240 people go to the emergency room for firework-related injuries each day.
Even sparklers, which are commonly and falsely viewed as "safe" for young children, need to be handled with caution. According to CPSC, 31 percent of reported 2014 fireworks injuries were caused by sparklers. These injuries can be severe, as sparklers burn up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is as hot as a blowtorch.
Due to the many dangers that fireworks present, the CPSC recommends that children, especially those 6 and under, not be allowed to use fireworks, including sparklers and firecrackers.
Many firework-related injuries are the result of improper use such as creating or modifying fireworks, leaning over a firework to light a fuse or lighting a firework too close to other people or in one's hand.
Malfunctioning fireworks are also a common culprit of injuries and often occur when fireworks tip over, have inconsistent flight paths, early/late ignitions or unexpected debris or blowouts. Fireworks present multiple opportunities for injury.
A responsible adult should always supervise any firework activity. Following the safety tips below can help you and others safely enjoy fireworks throughout the summer season.
• Obey all local laws regarding the use of fireworks.
• Know your fireworks before igniting. Read cautionary labels and performance descriptions.
• Avoid buying fireworks packaged in brown paper. This type of packaging is commonly used for fireworks intended for professional use only.
• Use fireworks outdoors in a clear area - away from buildings, vehicles and bystanders.
• All firework activities should be supervised by a responsible adult.
• Children should not be given fireworks to play with or ignite, even sparklers and firecrackers.
• Wear safety glasses when using fireworks.
• When lighting a firework, never place any part of your body directly over a firework device. Never light a firework in your hand or point/throw a firework at another person.
• Light one firework at a time and back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting.
• Always have a bucket of water and a water hose nearby and ready for use.
• Never relight a "dud" firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
• Dispose of used fireworks by wetting them down and place them in a metal trash can away from any building or combustible materials.
Although a majority of firework injuries occur around the Fourth of July, 35 percent of firework-related injuries happen during the rest of the year. Remember to practice fireworks safety year-round to avoid unnecessary injury.