With warm weather and family events, the Fourth of July can be a fun time with many great memories, but before you celebrate; make sure everyone knows about fireworks safety.
If fireworks are not handled properly, they can cause serious burns and eye injuries in kids and adults. The best way to protect your family is not to use any fireworks at home - period. Attend public fireworks displays, and leave the lighting to professionals.
Lighting fireworks at home isn't even legal in many areas, so if you still want to use them, be sure to check with your local police department first. If they're legal where you live, keep these safety tips in mind.
Kids should never play with fireworks. Things like firecrackers, rockets, and sparklers are just too dangerous. If you give kids sparklers, make sure they keep them outside and away from the face, clothing, and hair. Sparklers can reach 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to melt gold.
- Buy only legal fireworks (legal fireworks have a label with the manufacturer's name and directions; illegal ones are unlabeled), and store them in a cool, dry place.
- Never try to make your own fireworks.
- Always use fireworks outside and have a bucket of water and a hose nearby in case of accidents.
- Steer clear of others - fireworks have been known to backfire or shoot off in the wrong direction.
- Never throw or point fireworks at someone.
- Don't hold fireworks in your hand or have any part of your body over them while lighting.
- Wear some sort of eye protection, and avoid carrying fireworks in your pocket, as the friction could set them off.
- Point fireworks away from homes, and keep away from brush and leaves and flammable substances.
- Light one firework at a time (never in a glass or metal container), and never relight a dud.
- Don't allow kids to pick up pieces of fireworks after an event. Some may still be ignited and can explode at any time.
- Soak all fireworks in a bucket of water before throwing them in the trash can.
Think about your pet. Animals have sensitive ears and can be extremely frightened or stressed on the Fourth of July. Keep pets indoors to reduce the risk that they'll run loose or get injured.
Use common sense. Spectators should keep a safe distance from the shooter and the shooter should wear safety glasses.
Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Have a "designated shooter."
If your 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. Also, don't flush the eye out with water or attempt to put any ointment on it. Instead, cut out the bottom of a paper cup, place it around the eye, and immediately seek medical attention - your child's eyesight may depend upon it.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, approximately 16% of all consumer fireworks injuries are caused by sparklers burning hands and legs, with the majority of sparkler injuries occurring to young children. These injuries would not have occurred if there had been close adult supervision and if some basic safety steps had been taken. Sparklers have been a traditional means of celebration for hundreds of years, and it's important to teach children how to use them safely. To prevent needless injuries, always use caution, and observe the following rules:
- Sparklers should ALWAYS be used under close adult supervision.
- Always remain standing while using sparklers.
- Never hold a child in your arms while using sparklers.
- Never hold, or light, more than one sparkler at a time.
- Sparklers and bare feet can be a painful combination. Always wear closed-toe shoes.
- Sparkler wire and stick remain hot long after the flame has gone out. Be sure to drop the spent sparklers directly in a bucket of water.
- Never hand a lighted sparkler to another person. Give them the unlit sparkler and then light it.
- Always stand at least 6 feet from another person while using sparklers.
- Never throw sparklers.
- Show children how to hold sparklers away from their body and at arm's length.
- Teach children not to wave sparklers, especially wooden stick sparklers, or run while holding sparklers.
- Take extra precautions with fireworks, and your holiday and summer will be a blast!