By: Rebecca Michelsen, M.Ed., MCHES, Community Outreach & Education Specialist, Penfield Children’s Center
Summer celebrations and holidays, like 4th of July, are full of fun and great memories. Most of our summer celebrations include spending time with family and friends, enjoying good food and maybe even enjoying a fireworks display. However, we need to make sure everyone is aware of and follows firework safety while enjoying fireworks.
When not handled properly, fireworks can cause burns or other injuries to both adults and children. The most common parts of the body injured by fireworks are hands and fingers, followed by head, face, ears, eyes, legs and arms. According to a report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, nearly 25% of firework-related injuries treated in an emergency room between June 21, 2020 and July 21, 2020 were children 14 years of age and younger.
One of the safest ways to enjoy fireworks is to leave them up to the professionals. Most communities hold public fireworks displays for the 4th of July or other community events and festivals. Check out your community’s event calendar or social media pages to find out when and where they might be holding a public fireworks display.
While not recommended, if you do decide to set off fireworks at home, here are some safety tips to remember.
- In most areas, it is not legal to shoot fireworks off at your home. However, if you still want to light some fireworks at home, make sure to check with your local police department to find out your community’s ordinance around fireworks.
- Buy only legally manufactured fireworks and never make your own. Legally made fireworks will contain a manufacturer’s label with directions on them. Do not confuse legally manufactured fireworks with meaning they are legal for your area. Again, make sure to check your community’s firework ordinance.
- Only adults should light fireworks. While lighting fireworks, adults should wear eye and ear protection.
- Have water on hand. Always point fireworks away from houses, brush or anything flammable. Make sure to have water on hand in case of an accident. Soak all used fireworks in water before throwing away in a trash can.
- View from a safe distance. It is important to view fireworks from a safe distance because fireworks can backfire or shoot off in the wrong direction. Some of the people hurt each year by fireworks are not the ones setting them off, but are the ones who are watching nearby. Additionally, fireworks can be extremely loud and can cause temporary or even permanent hearing loss if we are too close when they explode.
- Stay away from any firework that did not go off. The firework may still be lit and could explode. If this happens, use a hose to spray water onto the firework from a distance until it is completely soaked.
- Never let children play with fireworks, even sparklers. While sparklers may feel safer, they can get extremely hot (up to 1800° F) and can light clothes on fire causing burns.
Alternative ways to celebrate instead of fireworks:
- Glow sticks – This is a fun alternative to sparklers, and they last longer than a sparkler.
- Noise makers – Stop by your local store and pick up party blowers and whistles to help celebrate.
- Outdoor movie night – Set up a screen and a projector and enjoy your favorite movie under the stars.
- Confetti poppers –This is a fun alternative to party poppers.
What are some other fun alternatives to fireworks that you can enjoy at your celebrations?