Every year on the Fourth of July America celebrates its founding fathers in an Independence Day celebration. We memorialize the plight of the revolutionaries and the patriotism that gave birth to this great nation. As a country we gather with friends and family to celebrate the holiday with barbecues, relaxation and, of course, fireworks displays. While some will light sparklers and firecrackers on driveways, others will venture towards cities to witness the grand display of explosives light up the night sky. It is nearly impossible to find a location on that special evening where not a single firework can be heard. The country explodes in a festivity of lights in recognition of the time-honored tradition of memorializing the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Of course, the combination of amateur pyrotechnics and the often-consumed bout of alcohol do not necessarily lend themselves to the happy ending many anticipate. For many the day ends with an unexpected trip to the emergency room.
Mishaps on the Fourth
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission an average of 240 people will wind up in an emergency room each day surrounding July 4th with a firework-related injury. This statistic does not include the folks who celebrate early or shoot off unused fireworks later in the month. Illegal or homemade fireworks caused injuries that led to the death of eight individuals in 2013. The most common injury was burns to the hands and fingers. The second most common issue was an injury to the eyes. Almost two-thirds of the injuries sustained were burns. The CPSC reports that sparklers caused the majority of injuries. In contrast the least number of injuries happened when people attended a public firework display. A contributing factor to these statistics is the licensure and registration required in many states that permit someone to put on a public display – by comparison, it is not uncommon for even a young child to be permitted to use a sparkler. One-third of all injured parties are between the ages of 25 and 44 when they suffer from a firework-related accident. Whatever way the statistics are considered one thing is glaringly clear: fireworks should be handled by those who are experienced in the art.
Playing it Safe
Given that a firework is designed to explode when it is operating correctly, a firework that malfunctions is incredibly unpredictable. Any time fireworks are in use, a hose or a large bucket of water should be kept nearby. Clothing should be appropriately fitted so that it does not catch fire and cause burns. If children are around make sure that they are being supervised and not left alone with the explosives. Remember that even something as simple as a sparkler can severely injure a child. Fireworks should never be lit close to bystanders or flammable objects; the sparks from fireworks can travel further than expected. Remember that fireworks should be lit one at a time and not too close to one another as the chain reaction could be quite dangerous. If a firework burns someone they should seek medical attention immediately.