Every year, particularly during the early summer weeks around the Fourth of July, thousands of Americans are treated in emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries. While some of these injuries are minor, many of these injuries are extremely serious, resulting in burns, blindness, or fatalities. Annually there are numerous deaths reported from firework related injuries; perhaps these deaths could be avoided with adequate understanding of firework handling and safety.
First and foremost, children should not ever be allowed to use or handle fireworks! According to the United States Consumer Products Safety Commission, almost half of fireworks-related injuries reported annually occur in minors under the age of 15. Even skilled handlers can sustain surprise injuries from firework accidents, so we cannot let our children handle these unpredictable items.
All fireworks, included sparklers, are potentially dangerous. Believe it or not, sparklers are the cause of the majority of fireworks-related injuries to children under the age of five years old. People do not realize that sparklers burn at extremely high temperatures (soaring near 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit), putting off sparks that can easily cause burns, eye damage, or set clothing or other items on fire. If we don’t allow our children to play with matches, why would we allow them to hold a flaming stick? Fireworks, sparklers included, really are intended for professional adults.
Accordingly, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued a nationwide ban on the private use of any and all fireworks, noting that the risk of injuries is far too high to be acceptable. The AAP recommends that families visit public fireworks displays, which are much less dangerous.
While there are a few states that have completely banned all consumer fireworks, most have not. Until each and every state bans the private use of fireworks, the National Council on Fireworks Safety recommends that taking the following precautions can decrease the likelihood of injury by these dangerous devices:
- Do not ever let children touch or hold fireworks. This warning includes sparklers, and firework debris even after they have “gone off.” Firework debris can sometimes be more dangerous than the device itself, maintaining high temperatures, or explosive capacities.
- If allowing an older teenager (it is recommended that handling teens are at least 18 years of age) to use fireworks, they should be under close adult supervision.
- Consumer fireworks should NEVER be used while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- If you choose to buy fireworks, do research to make sure that you purchase them from a reliable seller.
- Review and obey all state and local laws for operating fireworks.
- Store your fireworks in a cool, dry place, or better yet, in a fire proof safe.
- Fireworks are only intended for outdoor use, and the user should always have a large amount of water on hand in the even of an emergency. It is recommended that a garden hose and sturdy bucket are on hand during operation.
- Thoroughly read and follow all label instructions.
- Operate and light and only one firework at a time. Do not ever attempt to “load” fireworks, or light several at once for appeal.
- Always hold fireworks away from your body while lighting them, and throw them immediately after ignition.
- Ensure that people are not in the path of an airborne firework. Do not throw or point a firework in the direction of anyone.
- Do not attempt to light fireworks in any type of container (especially something that is metal or glass).
- Do not ever light fireworks around a house or building, or near dry, flammable land or objects.
- Do not attempt to re-light a faulty firework. Instead, wait 20 minutes since the initial lighting attempt, and then soak it in a bucket of water before disposing of it.
Firework safety is no joke, and if the above mentioned guidelines are not followed, the results could potentially be devastating. If you or a loved one has sustained injuries from the negligence of an individual handling fireworks, you may be entitled to reimbursement for your harms and losses. To decipher if you are entitled to compensation for your personal injuries, call a St. Louis personal injury lawyer today at 314.409.7060 or toll free at 855.40.CRASH. With the fourth of July holiday approaching, please remember to be safe if you find yourself handling fireworks.