Independence Day, 4th of July, and Fireworks Shows all seem to be synonymous to the United States. Almost everyone loves a good fireworks show, and we gather on the anniversary of our nation’s independence to light up the sky. Another time of year that’s known for fireworks is New Year’s Eve. No matter when you are using fireworks, make sure that you are safe about it to prevent injuries and fires.
But why? Have you ever wondered why we do a display of fireworks to commemorate the day? Fireworks shows have been happening since 1777, the first anniversary of our independence. Before the Declaration of Independence was signed, on July 3, 1776, John Adams wrote that the occasion should be commemorated with “pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more.” The first fireworks shows happened in Philadelphia and Boston, and by 1783 a large variety of fireworks were available for the public to purchase.
Fireworks are fun to watch, but can also be dangerous if you are trying to light them yourself and do your own show. I’ve put together a few tips to help keep you and your family safe tonight as you enjoy your fireworks show. Of course, the safest option is to just kick back, relax, and enjoy one of the many public shows that cities put on by professionals, but some like to take matters into their own hands.
- Alcohol and Fireworks don’t mix. Your reactions are slower, and your inhibitions lowered, causing an unsafe environment for launching fireworks.
- Know your local laws. Many cities and counties have laws against individuals using fireworks.
- Read the instructions. If there are no instructions or labels, they are illegal fireworks. Make sure you know the proper way to light the fireworks.
- Don’t allow children to use fireworks. And even older children/teens should have adult supervision.
- Don’t attempt to relight a “dud”. Wait at least 20 minutes then soak it in a bucket of water.
- Only use in a clear area. Many home fires are started every year from fireworks.
- If you are in draught conditions, think hard about using fireworks. The smallest spark can start a fire if the area is so dry.
- Wear safety goggles. Prevent eye injuries and even blindness by protecting your eyes.
- Don’t use a glass or metal container. The force of the firework can shatter the glass, and the metal can melt from the heat, causing the firework to go in a different direction than intended.
- Think about your pets. Don’t bring them outside, the sound is too much for most of them. Make sure they have a safe place to hide indoors.
- From 2009-2013, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 18,500 fires caused by fireworks. These fires included 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires and 16,900 outside and other fires. An estimated two people were killed in these fires.
- In 2014, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 10,500 people for fireworks related injuries; 51% of those injuries were to the extremities and 38% were to the head.
Most of all, have a great time! If you are careful, fireworks can be fun. I personally don’t like fireworks, and have never launched any myself, but I enjoy watching them. Remember, they are explosives and extremely high heat. Even sparklers can get up to 2,000 degrees! A few years ago, we were at a party and one of our friends burned his fingers pretty bad on a sparkler.