Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Don't Let Fireworks Blow Your Holiday

You can count on it like clockwork...as the Fourth of July holiday approaches the evenings will be filled with the bangs and hisses of fireworks being shot off in the neighborhood and you'll begin seeing stories in the news about people being injured or killed by being reckless with explosives and sparklers.  The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that there were eight deaths and 11,400 injures related to the use of fireworks in the U.S. in 2013 with 65% of those injuries occurring in the 30 days surrounding the Fourth of July.  Last year's injuries were in increase from 8,700 in 2012.

Hey I'd be a hypocrite if I said "don't play with fireworks" as I've celebrated the holiday with them as a kid myself and with my kids as a Dad now.  The problem is that people need to start being a lot more responsible and less reckless with fireworks because here's the rub:  according to the CPSC last year "CHILDREN YOUNGER THAN AGE 5 experienced a higher estimated per capita injury rate than any other age group."  When it comes to children, especially under the age of 5, these are ALL avoidable injuries if adults stand up and act responsibly.  We need to do better and can do better when it comes to protecting children during the Fourth of July from fire work related injuries.

The CPSC annually reviews incident reports from hospital emergency rooms, death certificate files, police investigations, and news clippings to evaluate the causation of injuries associated with fireworks.  These annual evaluations have shown that people feel comfortable handing off to children fireworks that are perceived not too be "powerful" like sparklers and bottle rockets.  The reality is though that in 2013 these two types of fireworks resulted in 40% of all the estimated injuries that occurred.  In fact, what many people consider the least dangerous firework, SPARKLERS, were the most likely to cause injury in 2013 - 31% of the injuries last year attributed to fireworks were caused by sparklers.

When it comes to deaths, a clear picture has emerged, on what to avoid.  According to this year's CPSC report ALL of the deaths in 2013 resulted when the victim was manipulating (or was a bystander to someone who was handling) a professional or home-manufactured firework.  It is probably best not to make your own fireworks and to leave the heavy-duty professional grade ammunition to the pros.

If you are planning on including your own personal fireworks celebration as part of the Fourth of July festivities, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

NEVER allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks, including sparklers.  Parents may not realize how often young children suffer injuries from sparklers.  Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees - hot enough to melt metal;

ALWAYS have an adult close by to supervise fireworks activities if older children are allowed to handle devices;
Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or mishap;

Never try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks.  Soak them with water and throw them away;

Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper, which is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and could pose a danger to consumers;
Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers;

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

Never point or throw fireworks at another person.

Now these seem like obvious and easy rules to follow, yet thousands of people are getting hurt by not being careful enough around fireworks.  This year if you are using fireworks please take a step back and make sure you are being extra cautious and ensuring that only children are of appropriate age and maturity handle them plus are adequately supervised by adults.  We don't want to see anyone's Fourth of July blown apart by a fireworks accident.  Let's all have a fun and safe holiday!

For more information and tips CLICK HERE to visit the website for the NATIONAL COUNCIL ON FIREWORKS SAFETY, an industry trade association promoting responsible consumer behavior with its products.  The AMERICAN PYROTECHNICS ASSOCIATION also has a useful website filled with tips and information about responsible fireworks use.  You can also find information from the CPSC here.

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