4th of July and Fireworks Safety

07.02.15   Mark A. Halloway, OHST | More by this Author

4th of July and Fireworks Safety

With Saturday being the 4th of July, I’m sure many of us will be gathered together with friends and family to enjoy picnics and barbeques, games and outdoor activities, and, most likely, fireworks. Viewing professional fireworks displays from a distance rarely poses a safety concern. However, consumer fireworks present a much greater hazard.

Here are some sobering facts and safety tips to remember if you are going to indulge in the use of consumer fireworks this holiday weekend.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission CPSC) annual report on fireworks for 2014:
    • There were 9 deaths related to injuries sustained by the use/misuse of fireworks.
    • Burns are the most common type of injury from fireworks in 2014 at 54%, while about one-sixth (17%) were      contusions or lacerations.
    • Males accounted for three-quarters (74%) of the injuries.
    • The rate of fireworks injury in 2014 was highest for people ages 25-44 (34%) followed by children under 10 (24%).
    • Sparklers, fountains and novelties alone accounted for 25% of the emergency room fireworks injuries in 2014.
    • Firecrackers accounted for 20% of the injuries, re-loadable mortar for 9%, roman candles for 4%, and bottle rockets     for 2%.

A regrettably notable, very recent incident: A man just died last Sunday, 6/28/2015, in Walled Lake, Michigan. He picked up a “dud” firework and held it up next to his head. It was not a dud and was not extinguished. It exploded next to his head. Don’t pick up “duds” unless you are certain they have been properly extinguished (thoroughly soak them with water) and don’t hold any fireworks next to your head or face!

Here are some common sense safety tips for fireworks safety:
    • Know your fireworks. Read caution labels and instructions before igniting!
    • Do not use homemade fireworks or illegal explosives! They can be fatal!
    • Fireworks should only be used outdoors! Use fireworks in clear and open areas that do not have direct obstructions     or limitations overhead, and avoid areas that have dry grasses and bushes
    • Before lighting the fireworks, check wind conditions and look for obstructions. Do not use fireworks if there are     strong winds, and make sure the prevailing wind is blowing away from spectators.
    • Keep a water source or fire extinguisher ready if you are shooting fireworks. Before lighting fireworks, agree on     which adult should extinguish the fireworks in case of a problem. Make sure this person is alert and ready in case of     emergency.
    • Alcohol and fireworks do not mix! Don’t ignite fireworks if you are intoxicated!
    • Wear safety glasses when using fireworks and hearing protection for fireworks that include a report (make a loud     bang).
    • Never relight a “dud” firework! Wait 20 minutes then soak it in a bucket of water before you dispose of it. Soak spent     fireworks with water too before placing them in an outdoor garbage can.
    • Parents should closely supervise children and teens if they are using fireworks.
    • Do not hold fireworks or other any other type of explosive in your hands! This includes small firecrackers and lit and     non-lit fireworks of any type. If fireworks explode in the hand, the damage could be irreparable. Hands and fingers     are the body parts most frequently injured by fireworks.

Most of us grew up thinking sparklers are reasonably safe because they are not propelled and don’t explode but sparklers cause ¼ of fireworks injuries, the most injuries per type.
    • Always remain standing while using sparklers.
    • Never hold a child in your arms while using sparklers.
    • Never hold, or light, more than one sparkler at a time.
    • Never throw sparklers.
    • Sparkler wires remain hot long after the flame has gone out. Be sure to drop spent sparklers in a bucket of water.
    • Do not let children run while holding sparklers and teach them to stay away from others when holding lit sparklers.      They are essentially a hand-held fire.

Please have a safe and wonderful holiday weekend!

TAGS: Safety

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