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Fireworks are all but synonymous with July 4th, but not nearly everyone who celebrates the holiday with skyward explosions of light and color actually gets up close and personal with fireworks. Nevertheless, most years see nearly 9,000 people across the country enter hospital emergency rooms with firework-related injuries.
Most people know very little about fireworks safety, especially because many states ban the sale and ignition of fireworks. Expert groups in fields including medicine, public health, and pyrotechnics have addressed this issue head-on by establishing some basic fireworks safety tips that anyone in direct range of fireworks should heed. If you’re planning to light your own fireworks to celebrate July 4th this week, make sure to keep these six key fireworks safety tips in mind.
1. Be sober
July 4th is often a time for celebrating the country’s independence with beer after beer. Being even a bit tipsy while operating fireworks can lead to serious injuries, especially of the hand and fingers. If you find yourself drunk on July 4th, let someone else who’s completely sober handle the fireworks.
2. Be an adult
Children should never handle fireworks. Young minds might not fully comprehend not just the dangers of exploding fireworks, but how to properly ignite them. No matter how eager kids are to try lighting fireworks, let the adults do the work.
3. Go one at a time
Don’t rush through lighting all your fireworks or try to set them all off at once. Instead, light each individual firework on its own, always in an outdoor setting, never aimed at a person. Fireworks will cause extensive damage and injuries if used indoors, and they should only be pointed directly upwards towards the sky, or else they might explode directly on someone.
4. Only hold fireworks that allow holding
Only a small fraction of fireworks are not dangerous to hold. In general, when lighting a firework, do not hold onto it or otherwise keep it in your hand. Keeping a firework in your hands until the moment it goes off is the fastest way to lead to serious hand, face, and arm injuries.
5. If a firework doesn’t go off, leave it
Let’s say you light a firework, but it doesn’t go off. You might be tempted to relight this firework. Doing so could lead to a premature explosion that can seriously harm everyone in the firework’s proximity. Instead, continue lighting other fireworks a good distance from the unlit firework. After 20 minutes have passed, placed the unlit firework in a bucket of water.
6. Keep water around
You’ll want plenty of water on hand for more than just cooling unlit fireworks. Water will help put out any accidental fires that your fireworks cause. Once a firework has been lit, exploded, and fully used, you’ll also want to store it in water. If anyone suffers minor burns, a quick splash of water may help treat them, but for all more serious burns, you shouldn’t hesitate to go to the hospital.
If you use fireworks often to celebrate July 4th, what are some safety guidelines you always follow? Share your tips in the comments!