Fireworks are a staple of the Fourth of July, right along with hot dogs and wearing red, white and blue. However, those who opt to light a personal display rather than leaving it to the professionals could be asking for trouble.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were an estimated 12,900 fireworks-related injuries that required the attention of emergency departments last year, with 67 percent of the incidents happening in the month surrounding the holiday. There were also eight fireworks-related deaths reported in 2017, according to the CPSC, with victims ranging in age from four to 57.
“CPSC works year round to help prevent deaths and injuries from fireworks,” said Ann Marie Buerkle, CPSC acting chairman, in a statement. “Beyond CPSC’s efforts, we want to make sure everyone takes simple safety steps to celebrate safely with their family and friends. We work with the fireworks industry, monitor incoming fireworks shipments at the ports and enforce federal fireworks safety regulations, so that all Americans have a safe Fourth of July.”
Aside from bodily harm, fireworks can also result in financial hardship. Fireworks are responsible for an average of 18,500 fires per year and an average of $43 million in property damage, the National Fire Prevention Association reports.
Those planning to conduct their own fireworks displays at home should take measured precautions and follow these tips to avoid injuries and other consequences.
Check local laws
Consumer fireworks are not legal in all areas. Before lighting up, consult and obey local regulations to ensure you’re not breaking the law, advises the National Council on Fireworks Safety.
Be sure to only purchase legal fireworks from a licensed seller and never experiment with homemade devices.
And remember, just because they’re legal doesn’t mean they’re safe.
Take necessary precautions
It’s always best to be prepared, so the National Council on Fireworks Safety recommends to keep a bucket of water and active water hose nearby in case of emergency. In addition, never light fireworks indoors and keep them away from dry grass and other flammable items.
Those handling fireworks should avoid wearing loose clothing that could catch fire and sport safety glasses to avoid eye injuries.
If any injury occurs, immediately seek medical attention by calling 911.
Light with care
The National Council on Fireworks Safety says to ignite one firework at a time and then move away quickly.
If a firework doesn’t light, do not try to reignite it or stand over it to investigate why it didn’t take off. Wait 20 minutes, then put the dud in a water bucket.
When finished, dispose of fireworks by wetting them down and placing in a metal trash can away from buildings until the following day.
Keep pets and children away
All fireworks should be handled by adults, according to the National Council on Fireworks Safety. Never allow children to set off the explosives. Instead of sparklers, give children glow sticks to play with.
Pets should also be kept away from firework displays and kept inside. PEOPLE Pet Vet Dr. Evan Antin explained fireworks can set off your pet’s fight or flight response. Your dog may get a rush of adrenaline from the loud bangs and crackles, resulting in the belief that his life is at risk.
Booze after the bursts
Never let someone who has been drinking handle fireworks.