How to Enjoy Fireworks Safely

If you're including fireworks in your summer plans, be sure you're practicing these guidelines to help keep you and your family safe.

Family outside at night watching fireworks, staying safe while watching fireworks

Summertime: perfect nights, watermelon, family vacations, and fireworks. One thing to avoid adding to that list is a fireworks injury. No one plans for it, yet about 180 people go to the emergency room every day for the month surrounding July 4. Here are some simple tips to keep your family safe this year.

Supervise “harmless” fireworks

Sparklers are a definite crowd pleaser. And holding your hand in front of those sparks without getting burned is endless entertainment for a child. But never leave a child unattended with sparklers; because these simple fireworks burn at about 2,000 degrees.

To reduce chance of injury, pull back your child’s hair, change any loose clothing, always keep the sparkler pointed away from the face, and don’t let them run while using a sparkler.

Don’t buy brown paper fireworks

A firework wrapped in brown paper rather than the colorful packaging you would normally see at a firework stand may suggest it was made for a professional display. This makes it high risk for an average consumer since it’s meant to be handled by a professional.

Never stand above a fuse while lighting

Fireworks can go off unexpectedly, and you don’t want your face (or any other body part) anywhere near it. As soon as the firework is lit, back up as far as possible.

Don’t light fireworks in glass bottles

Don’t place fireworks in glass or metal containers. This increases the chances of the container exploding and creating an additional safety hazard.

Never attempt to relight a “dud” firework

If your firework didn’t light, don’t try to relight it again. Some fuses take longer than expected. Wait at least 20 minutes before going back to douse the firework that didn’t light.

Clear the area where you’re going to light fireworks

Be mindful of weeds, shrubs, or cars—anything that could catch fire. The larger the fireworks, the more space you will need to clear.

Wear protective eyewear when lighting fireworks

About 19% of all firework injuries happen to eyes, while an additional 15% happen to the face, ears, or head. Many of these could be avoided by wearing simple eye protection while lighting fireworks.

Keep a bucket of water nearby

This may go without saying, but fireworks involve fire. It’s always a good idea to have water close by in case a firework launches in a different direction than you planned.

Follow your cities guidelines for firework usage

Every area has different laws on what type of fireworks are allowed. As of 2019, 46 states plus D.C. allowed some type of consumer firework. Before lighting, find out what type may be allowed in your state. And be sure to follow your city’ guidelines for firework usage.

Stay away from M-class fireworks

Fireworks like M-80s or M-100s are illegal explosives. Their unpredictability makes them extremely dangerous. If you see them, report it to the police or call the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives at 1-888-283-2662.

Remember common sense guidelines as well: Never throw or aim a firework at anyone even as a joke, and don’t light a firework in your hand.

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