With many communities cancelling July 4th events this year more people will be having fireworks for their private celebrations. In the City of Pittsburgh calls to Police to report people shooting off fireworks is up 389% over last year since June 1st to June 21st. Personal safety is of the utmost concern. I cannot put enough emphasis on the danger of fireworks. Just because fireworks are legal does not mean they are safe.
- On average 7.1 reports of fireworks related deaths per year from 2001 – 2016. In 2017 eight people died.
- Fireworks were involved in over 12,000 injuries treated in US hospital ERs during 2017
- In 2017 – 50% of all fireworks involved injuries were children and young adults under 20.
- Burns were the most common to all parts of the body except the eyes where contusions, lacerations and foreign bodies in the eyes more frequently.
- 25% of Emergency room visits for fireworks injuries were children under 5 years of age handling sparklers.
- The National Fire Protection Association estimates that local fire departments respond to more 50,000 fires caused by fireworks each year. More fires are reported on July 4 than any other day of the year. On a typical Fourth of July, fireworks account for two out of five of all reported fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Each year, fireworks cause on average 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires and nearly 17,000 other fires resulting in thousands of injuries.
Fireworks in Pennsylvania have only recently become legal to purchase. Keep in mind these safety tips as we see how the legalization of fireworks affects the number of injuries. In the City of Pittsburgh it is illegal to set off fireworks within 150 feet of a building – that is the distance of 10 car lengths.
- Kids should never play with fireworks. Things like firecrackers, rockets, and sparklers are just too dangerous. Make sure to keep them outside and away from the face, clothing, and hair. Sparklers can reach 1,800°F (982°C) — hot enough to melt gold.
- Buy only legal fireworks – Legal fireworks are labeled with the manufacturer’s name and directions, store them in a cool, dry place. Illegal fireworks usually go by the names M-80, M100, blockbuster, or quarter pounder. These explosives were banned in 1966, but still account for many fireworks injuries.
- Never try to make your own fireworks.
- Always use fireworks outside, never light fireworks indoors and have a bucket of water and a hose nearby in case of an accident.
- Steer clear of others setting off fireworks. They can backfire or shoot off in the wrong direction.
- Never throw or point fireworks at someone, even as a joke.
- Don’t hold fireworks in your hand or have any part of your body over them while lighting.
- Wear eye protection.
- Don’t carry fireworks in your pocket — the friction could set them off.
- Point fireworks away from homes and vehicles, and keep away from brush and leaves and flammable substances.
- Light one firework at a time and move away quickly
- Never relight a “dud”.
- Never light a firework in a glass or metal container.
- Don’t allow kids to pick up pieces of fireworks after an event. Some may still be ignited and can explode at any time.
- After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
- Alcohol and fireworks don’t mix-save the drinking until after the fireworks.
Demonstrating the Dangers of Consumer Fireworks video National Fire Protection Association https://youtu.be/N0uMUH6jta0
If an injury by fireworks does occur get the injured immediately to a doctor or hospital by dialing 911
If an eye injury occurs:
- Seek medical attention immediately.
- Do not remove any objects that are stuck in the eye.
- Do not apply pressure.
- Don’t touch or rub the eye, this can cause more damage.
- Don’t flush the eye with water.
- Don’t try to apply ointment.
And let’s not forget the safety of our pets!
- Make sure your pets – cats and dogs alike – have identification tagswith up-to-date information.
- Don’t bring your pets to a fireworks display, even a small one.
- If fireworks are being used near your home, put your pet in a safe, interior room to avoid exposure to the sound. Play calming music in the room your pet is confined to or give your pet a new or favorite toy to get its attention off of the noise
- Make sure your pet has an identification tag, in case it runs off during a fireworks display.
- Never shoot fireworks of any kind (consumer fireworks, sparklers, fountains, etc.) near pets.
- If your pets are microchipped, make sure your contact information in the microchip registry is up-to-date.
- Take a current photo of all of your cats, dogs – just in case.
- If you’re hosting guests, ask them to help keep an eye on your pets to make sure they don’t escape. Placing notes on exit doors and gates can help both you and your guests remain vigilant.
- Keep sparklers, glow sticks, fireworks, and charcoal and kabob skewers away from curious pets.
After the celebrations:
- Check your yard for fireworks debris before allowing pets outside to play or relax. Even if you didn’t set off fireworks yourself, debris can make its way into your yard, where curious animals may pick it up to play with or eat.
- Check your pastures and remove debris to protect horses and livestock.
- If you hosted guests, check both your yard and home for food scraps or other debris that might be dangerous to pets, such as food skewers.
Be courteous – Don’t shoot fireworks off late at night
For some, fireworks can be a source of stress, especially for those Veterans and first responders who suffer from PTSD. The loud noises can sometimes be a trigger. Although not every individual who lives with PTSD may be affected, many Veterans are stepping up to raise awareness of those who might be.
Many with PTSD can mentally prepare for planned events, like ones that occur annually in their hometowns. But for some the unexpected rat-a-tat of firecrackers could bring them back to the battlefield and set them on edge. Especially when you get waken up at two, three o’clock in the morning, it brings back those memories.