Did you know that sparklers burn at temperatures as high as 1200 to 2000 degrees Fahrenheit? That’s hotter than the temperature at which cakes bake (350 °F), wood burns (575 °F), and glass melts (900 °F). However, for many families, playing with sparklers and watching the neighborhood firework show is a 4th of July tradition. Even holding a sparkler can have life-altering consequences, including eye injuries and loss of limbs. Lighting firecrackers, roman candles or reloadable shells can be just as dangerous- terrifying pets, starting accidental fires, and cause serious injuries, including painful burns.
According to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, sixty percent of all firework injuries occur around July 4th, with firecrackers and homemade explosives at the top of the list. More than half of all non-fatal firework injuries are burns that could have been prevented had better firework safety rules been followed. Firework-related injuries and fires occur generally because of improper use, not from a manufacturing defect. Common sense and firework safety is essential to enjoying the celebrations without any life-altering burns or injuries.
Don’t spend your July 4th weekend in the emergency room. First, check to be sure fireworks are legal in your community before using them. Even if there is no statewide ban on firework use, your city or county may have a burn ban in effect that prohibits the use of fireworks. If fireworks are legal in your community, follow these guidelines from the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission and the National Council on Fireworks Safety to enjoy your celebrations safely this year:
- Never allow young children to play with fireworks. You’d never let a young child play with fire, and sparklers and firecrackers are no different. The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) strongly discourages the use of fireworks, including sparklers, by children under the age of five. Adults should always supervise all firework activities. Never allow children to play with or ignite a firework.
- Keep a hose and water bucket nearby. Set off firecrackers on a flat, paved surface, such as the middle of a driveway or cul-de-sac. Check the area for possible debris that could catch fire, including leaves, branches and plants. Keep a bucket of water and garden hose handy in case a spark accidently ignites.
- Exercise caution when lighting the fuse. When lighting fireworks, do so carefully without placing any part of your body over the actual firework. Wear safety glasses to protect your eyes in the event of an unexpected explosion. Light one firework at a time and back away quickly. Never shoot fireworks into a metal or glass container; doing so could result in an additional explosion. Never carrying fireworks in your pocket.
- Say “no” to sparklers. Sparklers can burn as hot as 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission. Skip the sparklers and eliminate the risk of serious burns or accidental injuries.
- Dispose of fireworks safely. Once the celebrations are over, douse all used fireworks with water. Place the fireworks in a metal trashcan away from a building or combustible materials until the next day. NEVER relight a firework that failed to fully function. The National Council on Firework Safety advises consumers to wait 20 minutes and then soak the “dud” firework in a bucket of water.
- Save the alcohol for later. Alcohol and fireworks don’t mix. If you do plan on indulging in drinks prior to setting off fireworks, choose a "designated shooter" who has not been drinking to manage the fireworks. Or, skip the at-home display altogether and attend your town’s public, professionally run fireworks demonstration after your picnic festivities end.