Fourth of July fireworks safety

Written by Crystal Schwalger

As everyone knows, the Fourth of July is coming this weekend. This is a great time to build lasting memories with friends and family. Fireworks are beautiful and can be tons of fun, but they can also be dangerous. Before you and your family head out to celebrate, it is imperative that everyone—including children—knows about fireworks safety. Here in southern Utah, special care needs to be taken to not only avoid injuries that could be sustained from fireworks but also to prevent fires in this hot, dry area. Having the proper preparation and information could save you and your loved ones a trip to the emergency room this year.

A report published by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says that in 2014 alone, an estimated 10,500 injuries received from fireworks were treated in emergency rooms across the U.S. Roughly 35 percent of those injuries were to children under the age of 15. Unfortunately, most of these injuries could have been prevented had parents and caregivers followed proper safety procedures. Of course, the best way to protect your family from firework injuries is to not use any fireworks at home at all. Instead, attend public fireworks displays and leave the lighting of all fireworks to the professionals. However, if you do plan to use them at home, here are safety suggestions given by the Consumer Product Safety Commission:

Before you begin, make sure you have:

– A bucket of water and/or hose. Water is important for cooling off spent sparklers, fully extinguishing fireworks, and using in case of fire.

– A clear, flat area away from houses, spectators, leaves, and flammable materials.

– Closed-toed shoes and clothes worn close to the body.

Sparkler safety:

– Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks. Children can be excited and are often curious about fireworks, which can increase their risk for injury.

– While many parents believe sparklers to be safe, it’s important to remember that sparklers can burn up to 2,000 degrees F, which is as hot as a blow torch and can cause substantial burns.

– Don’t allow children under the age of 12 to handle sparklers. Most parents don’t realize that younger children often lack the physical coordination and good judgment to handle fireworks safely. An alternate idea is to let them wave glow sticks which are still fun, but not hot enough to melt metal.

– Show older children how to hold sparklers at arm’s length, and don’t let them run with the sparklers.

– Remain at least six feet away from another person while using sparklers. Many injuries happen when sparklers are held too close to another person.

– To hand a sparkler to another person, give him or her unlit sparkler and then light it.

– Don’t hold a child in your arms while holding a sparkler.

– Drop spent sparklers into a bucket of water.

– If a child is injured by fireworks, immediately go to a doctor or hospital. If an eye injury occurs, don’t allow your child to touch or rub it, as this may cause even more damage.

Tips for Everyone:

– Always read and follow the directions.

– Onlookers must keep a safe distance from the person igniting the fireworks.

– Never place any part of your body directly over a firework device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.

– Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully. Many injuries have been sustained after trying to relight a “dud” firework that exploded.

– Never point or throw fireworks at another person.

– Light fireworks one at a time, and then move back quickly.

– Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.

– After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.

– Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Make sure you have a designated lighter of all fireworks.

– Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.

– Never use or experiment with homemade fireworks.

With the weather being continually hot and dry, not only here in southern Utah, but everywhere across the country, fire danger is a real concern. Always use common sense when using fireworks, and be aware of the local rules and regulations for your area. In Washington County, each municipality has its own set of rules and restrictions on fireworks, so it’s important to know where and when they can be set off. For more information, please consult your local city office for precise rules and fireworks regulations.

Celebrating and setting off fireworks for the Fourth of July is time that parents can build lasting and fun memories for years to come. Being safe while still having fun is a bonus. Happy Birthday America!

Crystal Schwalger has loved writing ever since she could remember. Her love of learning led her to Dixie State University where she graduated with a degree in English and communications. She is passionate about writing and believes that you should never give up on your dreams. She is happiest when she is at home enjoying her backyard green spaces with her family. She currently lives in Washington, Utah, with her husband, her children, and her dog Kali.

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Crystal Schwalger has loved writing ever since she could remember. Her love of learning led her to Dixie State University where she graduated with a degree in English and Communications. She is passionate about writing and believes that you should never give up on your dreams. She is happiest when she is at home enjoying her backyard green spaces with her family. She currently lives in Washington Utah with her husband, her children, and her dog Kali.