The 4th of July can be an exciting and beautiful time to celebrate with family and friends. And the number one way people celebrate is with fireworks. However, each year, amateur firework use accounts for numerous incidents—including burns, bodily injuries and an average of 18,500 fires.
The National Safety Council advises everyone to enjoy fireworks at public displays, where experts—including the local fire department—manage the activities. Individuals should also avoid using fireworks at home.
However, if you choose to use any fireworks on your own, be sure to follow these safeguards:
- Be sure fireworks are legal in your area before using or buying them and obey local ordinances regarding private fireworks usage.
- Read and follow the manufacturer’s safety instructions and warnings.
- Do not try to make your own fireworks, alter or combine them. Use only those that are commercially manufactured.
- Only light fireworks outside in an open space. Keep spectators a safe distance from lit fireworks.
- Have a hose or bucket of water handy in case of emergencies. Dispose of all firework materials by first soaking them in water before putting them in the trash.
- If a firework does not go off, do not try to relight it. Instead, wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
- Never light a firework in a glass or metal container.
- Do not drink alcohol while lighting fireworks—they can pose burning hazards if you are not careful.
- Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities.
- Never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks. Sparkler fireworks are especially fun for children, but sparklers alone account for one quarter of emergency room fireworks injuries. Once children are old enough, allow them to hold a sparkler under your guidance.
Remember, there's nothing patriotic about going to the emergency room while everyone else is celebrating. Even mild fireworks such as sparklers can get hot enough to burn through clothing. To prevent burn injuries, exercise extreme caution when lighting and holding fireworks, and monitor your children closely during the festivities. Above all, remember that fireworks—even hand-held sparklers—are dangerous and can easily cause severe injuries. Always consider using a safer alternative, such as glow sticks, confetti poppers or colored streamers.
While fireworks safety is the first concern many people have surrounding safety on the 4th of July, here are some other safety reminders to be aware of:
- Fun in the sun means protecting your skin with these tips.
- Heatstroke and dehydration are also concerns to keep in mind. Drink plenty of water and seek shady areas if you feel dizzy or exhausted.
- If you host a BBQ that weekend, be aware of these grilling tips.
- Use good judgment when swimming in your pool, or boating. Be alert to conditions out on the water and ensure novice swimmers use floatation devices and have chaperones.
- And of course, be mindful not to drink and drive as you celebrate this independence day!
Don't Forget 4th of July Protection for Your Pets!
Like thunderstorms or the vacuum cleaner, fireworks may frighten your family pets (to the point of running away!), and the chemicals in fireworks can be dangerous as well. To protect your furry friends this 4th of July:
- Keep pets indoors away from loud noises in a place that is comfortable to them. Do not take them to fireworks displays or leave them unattended outdoors.
- Plan to walk pets during the day, and allow pets to go to the bathroom before beginning your fireworks show to prevent accidents.
- Some pets will eat anything, so be sure to keep fireworks and sparklers out of reach.
- Be sure to thoroughly clean up your driveway or yard after setting off fireworks, before you let your pets have access to that area. Fireworks contain several types of chemicals and heavy metals that pets should avoid.
Get more tips from the ASPCA.ORG.