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Fireworks have been a part of holiday festivities for many years. While they certainly can add a thrill to any celebration, they can also be extremely dangerous and need to be handled safely and responsibility.
According to a Consumer Product Safety Commission report (PDF), an estimated 9,600 fireworks-related injuries were treated in U.S. emergency rooms in 2011. The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to leave them to the experts and watch from a safe distance. But if you're going to do it yourself, you need to know how to keep yourself and your family safe.
Before Lighting the Fuse
- Make sure fireworks are legal in your area. Regulations vary widely, so check with the American Pyrotechnics Association's directory of state laws.
- Buy only from a licensed dealer. Make sure they are legal consumer fireworks labeled with the manufacturer's name and directions. Beware of unmarked fireworks. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has great information about spotting illegal explosives.
- Store in a cool, dry place. Excessive heat and moisture can ruin them. Do not carry them in your pocket; they could ignite from the friction.
- Have a bucket of water ready. Use it to douse fireworks after they are spent. A garden hose or fire extinguisher may also come handy in case of a fire or other mishap.
- Keep a first aid kit nearby. Use it for treatment of minor burns.
- Wear proper clothing. Eye and ear protection, cotton or denim clothing, long pants, and covered shoes are recommended.
Igniting Fireworks Properly
- Use a hard, flat, and level surface. If you must use grass or gravel, lay down a strong piece of plywood as a shooting surface. Never shoot them off in a metal or glass container.
- Ignite only in cleared areas. Point fireworks away from homes and keep away from brush, leaves, and flammable substances. Never light anything if the wind is strong. A National Fire Protection Association report estimates fireworks started 15,500 fires in 2010.
- Light one at a time. Read and follow label directions. Use a long-tipped lighter to keep your hands and face away from fuses. Quickly move back to a safe distance immediately after lighting the fuse. Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
- Keep spectators at least 75 feet away. If case of a mishap, no one should be near the firing area.
- Avoid alcohol and smoking. Do not use any substance that may impede your judgment or safety.
- Douse with water when done. Use a bucket or garden hose before discarding spent fireworks. Never pick up fireworks that have malfunctioned.
- Don't hold fireworks in your hands. Having any part of your body over them while lighting can be also dangerous.
Keeping Kids Safe
- Never let children play with fireworks. Even sparklers can be very dangerous because they can reach 1,800° Fahrenheit (982° Celsius).
- Supervise closely. Make sure kids are a safe distance away and that they don't pick up any pieces of used fireworks, which may be hot or still ignited and could explode at any time.
- Seek medical attention if injured. Some mild first-degree burns can treated at home, but second and third-degree burns require immediate medical attention. WebMd has detailed instructions on treating burns in children.
- Store in a safe place. All fireworks should be out of children's reach and stored separately from matches.
Don't let an accident or injury get in the way of your next celebration. Whether watching a professional fireworks show from a distance, or having a small display in your backyard, be smart and be safe.
The information in this article was obtained from various sources. While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. The information is not intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. Nor is it intended to effect coverage under any policy. State Farm makes no guarantees of results from use of this information. We assume no liability in connection with the information nor the suggestions made.
Consumer Product Safety Commission report:
American Pyrotechnics Association:
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
National Fire Protection Association report
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