June and July are slated as “National Fireworks Safety Month”; however, there are probably many “eager beavers” out there that are already stocking up on fireworks. Because of drought conditions in many parts of the country, fireworks will be banned. Please observe warnings from county/city officials.
Judy Comoletti, National Fire Prevention Agency’s Division Manager of Public Education, states: “Fireworks are dangerous and unpredictable, especially in the hands of amateurs. The few seconds of pleasure those fireworks may bring are not worth risking injury, permanent scarring, or even death.” Wooded areas, homes, and even automobiles have become engulfed in flames because of fireworks. (Haven’t we had enough wildfires already?) Fireworks-related fires have typically caused at least $20 million in property loss each year for recent years. Bottle rockets or other types of rockets are some of the main causes of structure fire property loss.
Dr. John Hall, NFPA’s Division Manager of Fire Analysis and Research says, “when things go wrong with fireworks, they go very wrong, very fast, far faster than any fire protective provisions can reliably respond.” On the average, more than 8,000 Americans spend part of the July 4th in emergency rooms because of fireworks injuries. Contusions, lacerations and foreign bodies in the eye, in addition to permanent loss of vision are just part of the injuries caused by fireworks. However, 1,600 eye injuries tells us that the sight of shooting off fireworks for a few minutes’ thrill is not worth gambling on your vision, or hurting any other part of the body.
Fireworks must be treated with respect, if you plan to shoot them off. Read all the warning labels and then use common sense. As we said earlier, if there is a burn ban, forget it. If you should see someone misusing fireworks, stop them. Do not let children under 12 handle sparklers. Fireworks and alcohol don’t mix; have a “designated shooter.”
Most people do not want to risk losing a home that they have worked their life for by playing around with fireworks. Public fireworks displays are one of the safest alternatives to using fireworks on the Fourth of July. Conducted by trained professionals, these displays are the safest and smartest fireworks alternative for anyone, because they are established under controlled settings and regulations. After these displays or any other time, children should never pick up fireworks that may be left over, because they could discharge by still being active. Children should always tell an adult if they find this type of fireworks.
Facts worth repeating (in case they haven’t all been mentioned):
- More fires are reported in the U.S. on July 4th than any other day of the year, and fireworks account for more than half of those fires, more than any other cause of fire.
- In 2009, fireworks caused an estimated 18,000 reported fires, including 1,300 total structure fires, 400 vehicle fires, and 16,300 outside and other fires. These fires resulted in no reported civilian deaths, 30 civilian injuries, and $38 million in direct property damage.
- In 2009, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 8,800 for fireworks related injuries; 53% of 2009 emergency room fireworks-related injuries were to the extremities and 42% were to the head.
- The risk of fireworks injuries was highest for children ages 10-14, with more than twice the risk for the general population.
- Few people understand the associated risks – devastating burns, other injuries, permanent scarring, loss of vision, dismemberment, and possibly death, that could result.
- Amateur fireworks use endangers not only the users, but also bystanders and surrounding property and structures.
- If you are going to do fireworks at your home, have a water hose ready
We just recently learned that the decibel level of a typical fireworks display is 140. It takes only 120 decibels to bring on noise-induced hearing loss, according to the Ntional institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Be sure this July 4th, make sure freedom is the only thing ringing by enjoying the patriotic pyrotechnics from at least 1,000 feet (about three football fields) away from the launch site. If you have to be closer, how about investing in hearing protection earplugs?
We certainly aren’t trying to “dampen” your holiday spirit! Countries all over the world have celebrations that include fireworks. Congratulations to our friends in England, who will be hosting this year’s Olympics! We feel sure we’ll see plenty of fireworks during their festivities. Good luck to all participants! Represent your country to the best of your ability, and if you are an American, start the month off right by celebrating wisely. Happy Birthday, U.S.A.!