As Independence Day draws closer, fireworks will start speckling the sky and the National Safety Council is hoping you’ll leave the pyrotechnics to the professionals.
While it may be legal to purchase fireworks, they can be quite dangerous if handled improperly.
Officials report that in 2017, 8 people died and more than 12,000 were injured badly enough to require medical treatments after firework-related injuries.
While the majority of those incidents were due to amateurs attempting to use professional-grade, homemade or otherwise illegal fireworks, an estimated 1,200 were from less powerful devices such as small firecrackers and sparklers.
In addition to the safety hazard they cause to humans, they’re also a fire hazard, accounting for an average of 18,500 fires each year.
The National Safety Council advises everyone to enjoy fireworks during public displays conducted by experts. However, if you do choose to buy fireworks this season, the NSC has a few things for you to keep in mind.
Never allow young children to handle fireworks and yes, that means sparklers as well. While they seem harmless, sparklers burn at about 2,000 degrees which is hot enough to melt some metals.
The National Fire Protection Association estimates that sparklers alone account for more than 25 percent of emergency room visits for fireworks injuries. Parents are encouraged to use safer alternatives such as glow sticks or colored streamers.
Additionally, never use fireworks while impaired by drugs or alcohol, utilize protective eye where, never hold lit fireworks in your hands, never light them indoors and only use them away from people, houses and flammable materials.
Be sure to maintain a safe distance once the device is lit and never light more than one device at a time. If a firework malfunctions, do not try to re-light or handle it. On a related note, soak both spent and unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding them.
Also it is a good idea to keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don’t go off or in case a fire starts somehow.
For additional information, visit the National Safety Council’s Fireworks Safety Page.