Its that time of year again! The 4th of July: The summer holiday that focuses on cooking out, enjoying the evening with family, and celebrating America’s birth with fireworks! All around the country, people are spreading blankets and craning their necks to view breath-taking displays of colorful pyrotechnic artwork. Many others are preparing to host friends and family as they fire off their own display’s in appreciation of our nation’s birthday.
While fireworks when handled properly can yield exciting and wonderful results, they are unpredictable and hazardous as well. Even when handled by highly skilled pyrotechnic experts, fireworks are a threat to those personnel and others in close proximity. Please keep the safety of family and friends in mind as you celebrate this year.
In order to help families have the most possible fun this holiday season, please follow a few safety tips and pointers.
It is important to be aware of all local and federal regulations regarding the use of fireworks in your locality. The sale or use of any illegal fireworks such as M-80, quarter sticks, Silver Salutes, or Cherry Bombs is extremely dangerous and must be reported to the fire or police department, or to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms at 1-888-ATF-BOMB. 1(888)283-2662.
Alcohol and fireworks never mix. If you plan to be handling fireworks, you should save your drinks for after the display. Of the fireworks related deaths that the Consumer Product Safety Commission investigated from 2015, 27% involved the consumption of alcohol.
Perhaps the single most important tip for firework safety is that a responsible adult supervise ALL firework activities and NEVER give children fireworks. In 2014, 28% of fireworks related injuries were from sparklers. This most common and seemingly innocent of fireworks burns at temperatures exceeding 1000 degrees. It should never be held by a child. Between June 20 and July 20 of 2014, 35% of victims seen in hospitals for fireworks related injury or death were of the age 15 or younger, and 9% were children under the age of five. Any caring adult with the safety of their children in mind should keep fireworks away from kids in their house.
When lighting fireworks, always wear safety glasses to protect one’s eyes from misdirected explosives and shrapnel. Be sure to light fireworks outdoors in a clear area away from other people, structures and vehicles. 2013 saw over 15,600 fires caused by the use of fireworks, 1,400 of these were structural fires, and 200 of them were vehicle fires.
It is important to always have a bucket of water or hose at hand before using any fireworks. Some fireworks are “duds” or do not explode after the fuse burns- never attempt to relight these fireworks. If this does occur, leave the area clear for twenty minutes before dousing the firework. This will minimize the risk of anyone being harmed by a delayed explosion or fire.
When the celebration is complete and it is time to pick up for the night, douse all spent fireworks in water before collecting in a metal trash bin. Douse again in water and store away from any residences or flammable materials until the next day, when you may dispose of the fireworks by normal garbage disposal methods.
With a healthy respect for the risks involved and a responsible, sober approach to the fun, fireworks are a wonderful way to celebrate our independence. You can help minimize the risk by following simple and smart safety precautions, or by enjoying a local, professionally designed show.
Happy Independence Day from the Law Firm of Montross Miller Muller Mendelson & Kennedy, LLP.