Independence Day is nearly here, and America is ready to get her party on. Fireworks stands are everywhere, stocked with just the kind of goodies that excite the pyromaniac in all of us. From bottle rockets to mortars, roman candles to spinners and smoke bombs, to good old firecrackers, consumer fireworks stands offer a little something for everyone. Annually, Americans purchase nearly 250 million pounds of fireworks – that’s over one billion dollars worth of explosives. (It’s actually about $1,060,000,000 for those of you keeping track at home.)
While the Fourth of July is a great day to get together with friends and family and celebrate the independence of our great nation (and blow stuff up!), it’s important to remember that fireworks are, well, not terribly safe. In the United States alone, there are over 9,000 serious injuries due to fireworks every year – and nearly 45% of those injuries are sustained by children under the age of 14.
Personal injury is a huge risk for people using fireworks, but it’s also important to protect your home and property from damage when using fireworks. In 2013, an estimated 15,600 fires were caused by fireworks – adding up to a whopping $21 million dollars in property damage.
As you are planning your Fourth of July party this year, here are some things to keep in mind to keep you, your kids, your friends, your pets, and your property safe during fireworks season:
- Fireworks should only be ignited with proper adult supervision. Fireworks are made from explosive materials and are very dangerous. Never allow a child to light a firework without an adult present, and remember: even the “safe” fireworks can still cause injury. Nearly 30% of all fireworks injuries in children are caused by sparklers.
- Fireworks and alcohol do not mix. Have a “Designated Pyro” for the evening, to keep explosives out of the hands of the impaired. Planning on drinking? Sit back and enjoy the show.
- Always keep water handy. Thoroughly wet the area where you will be lighting your fireworks before starting your display. Always keep water handy – several full buckets or a garden hose – in case of fire. Keep your fireworks displays away from your house (your neighbor’s house), dry grassy areas, or trees.
- Never light fireworks in your hand. More than 1/3 of fireworks injuries reported each year are to hands and fingers. (Twenty percent were eyes, another twenty percent other parts of the head.) Light fireworks on the ground or in provided containers (never in metal or glass containers). Also, guys: don’t carry fireworks in your pocket. Just sayin’.
- Never re-light a firework. If your firework did not ignite properly, douse it with water. A slow or damaged fuse may explode unexpectedly and cause injury. All spent fireworks should be soaked overnight in a bucket of water before disposal.
- Keep your pets safe inside! Many pets are frightened by the sound of fireworks. National statistics show a 30-60% increase in lost pets between July 4th and July 6th. Let Fido hang out indoors for the evening, give him a favorite toy, and make sure he has the TV or radio on to distract him from sudden noises.
- Buy fireworks from reliable dealers. Cousin Joe will try to convince you that his homemade mortars are the bomb (see what I did there?), but don’t buy it. Fireworks manufacturers have strict quality control to produce fireworks that are safer for consumers. Homemade and shoddily made fireworks put the user at a much higher risk of personal injury. Always store your fireworks in a cool, dry place to prevent deterioration.
- Check that fireworks are legal in your area. Consumer fireworks are banned from many areas in the United States. Visit American Pyro for a directory of laws that affect your area. You can also check out Fire Restrictions US for current burn and fireworks bans that may be in place.
Have fun – but be safe! Fireworks can be beautiful and fun, but they can also be deadly. We hope these tips will help you and your family to have a fun and safe Independence Day!
The Art of Manliness: The Ultimate Man’s Guide to Fireworks
National Fire Protection Association: Fireworks
Pet Amber Alert: Keeping your pets safe on the 4th of July
Statistic Brain: Firework Statistics