Safety first when handling fireworks


From Special Reports

Days at the beach. Family trips to the ice cream parlor. Vacations. These are just a few of the things that evoke the spirit of summer, a time of year when school is out and everyone seems to exhale a little and enjoy the warm weather.

Awe-inspiring fireworks displays also come to mind when imagining summer. Whether it’s the Fourth of July or town gatherings along a local waterfront, fireworks displays are a big part of many people’s summers. Unfortunately, the potential for accidents and injuries is high when fireworks are involved, particularly when displays aren’t left to the professionals.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission notes that, on average, 280 people per day visit emergency rooms with fireworks-related injuries in the month around the July 4th holiday. More than 53 percent of fireworks-related injuries in 2017 were burns.

Fireworks are always best left to the professionals, and many communities have criminalized the use of fireworks by amateurs. But many people still light fireworks, and those that do should follow these safety precautions.

• Never let kids handle fireworks. Fireworks, even sparklers, should never be given to children. The National SAFE KIDS campaign notes that sparklers burn at 2,000 degrees F, which is hot enough to cause third-degree burns. So while they might seem like harmless symbols of summer, sparklers pose a significant threat to youngsters.

• Follow directions. Fireworks come with detailed directions for a reason, and that’s to keep users safe. Strictly adhere to these directions and go over them with anyone who intends to light fireworks.

• Never use fireworks indoors. Fireworks are for outdoor use only. If it rains, do not try to light fireworks indoors and then throw them outside before they go off.

• Make sure spectators keep a safe distance. Do not light fireworks until all spectators are out of range should something go awry.

• Recognize that fireworks are not toys. They might be a marvel, but fireworks are not toys. As a result, they should never be aimed or thrown at another person, nor should they be lit or launched from a body part.

• Do not attempt to reignite malfunctioning fireworks. Attempting to reignite malfunctioning fireworks can lead to serious injury.

• Light fireworks on smooth, flat surfaces. When lighting fireworks, do so only on smooth, flat surfaces, making sure to direct them away from people, homes, dry leaves, and flammable materials.

Fireworks are best left to the professionals. Consumers who insist on lighting their own should only do so with the utmost caution.

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