Top safety precautions for fireworks

Fireworks have become a staple at 4th of July parties. Each year, Americans celebrate independence by purchasing over 247,550,000 lbs of fireworks for their personal use, spending more than $725,000,000! That's a lot of fireworks!

 

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As fun as they are to watch, they can also be dangerous. Fireworks were involved in an estimated 10,500 injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms in 2014 - 7,000 of those occurring around July 4th. It's important to take safety precautions to avoid injuring yourself and others around you. Here's how.

Before you set off fireworks

  1. Store fireworks out of reach in a cool and dry place until you are ready to set them off.

  2. Protect your eyes and ears. Make sure you wear safety glasses and earplugs when setting off fireworks. And it's a good idea to have safety glasses and earplugs for those attending as well just in case a firework shoots in a direction that wasn't expected! 19 percent, or 1,200, of the 7,000 injuries were to the eyes.

  3. Dress appropriately. Be sure to wear snug fitting clothing and avoid long skirts, jackets, flowy shirts or dresses, or scarves. Loose clothing can catch fire more easily.

  4. Use legal fireworks. Shop at public fireworks stands that are licensed to sell fireworks. Legal fireworks will have a manufacturer's label as well as safety information. If you are unsure if the stand is legal, you can ask to see their license to sell fireworks in Tennessee. Avoid illegal fireworks altogether. They may seem cool and fun, but they may have been made poorly or in bad conditions making them more susceptible to malfunction.

  5. Make sure you have water on hand in case of any malfunctions or if anything catches fire.

  6. When looking for the perfect spot, we encourage you to find an open area where there are no trees, cars, or buildings that could be damaged.

  7. Make sure the ground isn't overly dry. Overgrown dry weeds or grass can easily catch fire, and never set off fireworks in a forest.

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How to handle fireworks safely

  1. Stay sober and alert. Alcohol and other drugs can slow you down or make you feel tired, not to mention affect your overall judgement. Make sure you only operate fireworks with a clear head.

  2. Do not let young children handle fireworks, even sparklers. They may seem like the safest option for kids, but they are known to cause severe burns. 40% of fireworks injuries were to children under age 15. For children under 5 years old, sparklers accounted for the most estimated injuries for that specific age group.

  3. Stand back! Keep children as well as other spectators at least 50 feet away from where fireworks will be set off. Fireworks have gone sideways instead of straight up causing injuries. Data from the U.S. Eye Injury Registry shows that bystanders are
    more often injured by fireworks than operators themselves.

  4. Never hold fireworks in your hand!

  5. Keep fireworks outside.

  6. Only light a firework once, and wait at least 30 minutes before checking on a firework that never went off. Injuries occur when a firework doesn't go off right away but does when someone picks it up to examine it.

  7. Don't try to modify or make your own fireworks.

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It's important to respect the nature of fireworks and to be prepared in case there is an emergency. Make sure you have a first aid kit on hand that can treat minor burns or irritations, and know where you can go for major injuries, whether it's the local hospital or clinic.

Have fun celebrating July 4th with your friends and families!

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