Whether it's a holiday or just a random, warm night, fireworks always make a gathering more fun and special. Unless, of course, you're a pet who doesn't like loud noises — then it's probably not the sort of entertainment you'd choose for the evening. For us less sound-sensitive humans, however, fireworks rarely fail to put a smile on our faces — as long as they go off up in the air and far away from any living things. Sometimes, though, if safety precautions aren't taken, that's unfortunately not how fireworks viewing parties go.
You can seriously hurt yourself while setting off fireworks. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), more than 9,000 people in the United States were severely injured by fireworks in 2018. At least five people died. Children under 15 accounted for 36% of those injuries. And a report by the National Fire Protection Association found that fireworks were responsible for starting 18,500 fires that same year.
If you're planning to use fireworks or even just sparklers during the holiday weekend, it's important to take steps to ensure that everyone involved is safe while interacting with these tiny, beautiful explosions.
Planning to use fireworks?
If you live in a state where you can buy and use them legally, fireworks should be relatively easy to find at entertainment supply stores, but their availability is part of what makes them dangerous. When children get a hold of fireworks, the likelihood of someone getting injured or property being damaged increases significantly simply because they'll be less inclined to use them responsibly. So first and foremost, do what you can to keep fireworks out of your younger kids' hands. If you have older children who want to set them off, make sure they're under close adult supervision while doing so.
Here are just a few other guidelines to consider when bringing fireworks onto the party scene:
Anyone using fireworks or standing nearby should be wearing protective gear, like goggles.
NEVER angle fireworks down or in the direction of other people.
Only light one firework at a time, and run to a safe distance once it's lit.
NEVER try to relight a firework that you suspect malfunctioned or is a dud.
Use them only in outdoor spaces far from property, trees and anything flammable.
NEVER hold a lit firework in your hands.
Keep a bucket of water nearby, and extinguish spent fireworks in the bucket for a few hours before discarding.
Don't put a firework in a container to set it off.
NEVER light fireworks will intoxicated.
If you're planning on using sparklers...
Just because they don't fire off like small rockets doesn't mean that sparklers are completely safe, especially when children are involved. The spark of a sparkler can set clothing and hair on fire. The rod itself is 2,000 degrees F — hot enough to melt metal. Sparklers account for 25% of firework-related emergency room visits, and 50% of those involve children under five. It's likely that parents think they're safer because of how regularly they're used (you can even find them as birthday cake candles), but that, in essence, is what makes them more dangerous — the lack of attention we give to them.
So, just like with fireworks, kids should be closely supervised with playing with sparklers, and children under five should probably just be allowed to watch.
Remember, taking these precautions doesn't have to spoil the fun; they're meant to help keep the fun going and save you from any unnecessary trips to the hospital. It's really just about being smart and protecting yourself and others from volatile explosive devices.
So when you're outside taking in the fireworks or running around the lawn with sparklers, respect their unpredictable nature and have a care for your and other's body parts that may or may not be a little too close to the action.