Independence Day is a time for family, cookouts, and fireworks! But a good time can quickly turn sour if the proper firework precautions are not taken. Following basic safety guidelines can help prevent you from suffering one of the over 12,900 injuries that are caused by fireworks each year.
Obey local laws
In Illinois, all “consumer fireworks” are banned and could result in fines or jail time. “Consumer fireworks” are not just the larger fireworks we see at the city displays. These also include the more common fireworks that can be purchased in Indiana like Roman Candles and Bottle Rockets. The only fireworks that are legal are not considered “consumer fireworks” – sparklers, snappers, and smoke devices. Indiana’s laws are slightly more relaxed – listing specific areas and times for use of fireworks, instead of a complete ban. However, it is still very important to follow the laws carefully and safely.
Keep away from children
In 2017, one-third of all firework related injuries involved children under the age of 15. Even a sparkler, often the firework that most adults deem safe for child use, can cause third degree burns in a matter of seconds. Sparklers can reach a temperature of 1200° Fahrenheit – hot enough to melt gold! In addition to keeping fireworks out of child hands, it is also important to keep children at a safe distance when lighting fireworks. Children should never be allowed to light fireworks.
Often times people will practice safe use of fireworks with children, but neglect to be safe themselves. Anyone lighting fireworks should remember a few simple safety tips. Only light fireworks in open outdoor areas away from buildings, trees, and vehicles. In 2017, 18,500 fires were caused by fireworks alone. Keep a bucket of water on hand when lighting fireworks to put out small fires and immerse “duds” after they have failed to ignite. If a fire does occur, do not hesitate to call 911 to prevent extensive damage. Only light one firework at a time. Once the firework is lit, move away as quickly as possible to avoid injury from ignition and debris. If the firework does not ignite, allow 20 minutes to ensure it is actually a “dud” then immerse it in water to prevent re-ignition. NEVER try to relight a “dud”! Eye injuries accounted for more than 1,800 firework related injuries in 2017 – an easy prevention is to wear goggles when handling fireworks. Finally, often a difficult guideline to follow, avoid alcohol when lighting fireworks. Alcohol can impair judgement and reaction time resulting in unnecessary injury.
Independence Day is a great time to bring everyone together. As you celebrate the holiday, keep in mind that it is always best to leave the fireworks to the professionals. However, if you are planning to light your own, following safe practices can help prevent injuries. If an injury does occur, do not hesitate to call 911 or go to Emergency Room. From all of us at IMH, have a safe and Happy 4th of July!!