Fireworks on July 4th are as synonymous with America as baseball and apple pie, but lying in wait behind each nonprofessional firework show is a dangerous scenario.

When handled by amateurs, fireworks can be extremely dangerous. In fact, fireworks have been one of the leading causes of serious injuries in recent years.

According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, 46% of injures occurred to the hands and fingers, 17% to the eyes, and 17% to the head, face and ears. Inflicted injuries are reported as severe burns.

Lack of knowledge about the proper handling procedures of fireworks leave your life and the lives of others in danger. Follow the proceeding safety advisories to ensure a joyous celebration this Independence Day.

  1. Know what's legal. Firework regulations vary by state. Make sure you have the proper permits in place and authorization before lighting.
  2. Only purchase from a reputable fireworks vendor. The labels on the products do not always guarantee that the firework was manufactured safely and legally.
  3. Never allow children to handle fireworks even when under adult supervision. Fireworks can reach up to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to melt gold! Children should never handle these explosive materials.
  4. Before lighting the firework, make sure to read the warning or caution label carefully and follow all directions. Have water on hand and the contact information for your local fire department in the event that something catches on fire.
  5. When preparing your evening of fireworks, be sure that you choose a location outdoors in a large open area clear of buildings, plants and combustible materials.
  6. Upon lighting the fireworks, no part of your body should ever be over the device.
  7. Only light one firework at a time. Doing so ensures a controlled experience.
  8. If a firework fails to ignite after lighting it, wait 15 to 20 minutes, then dump it in a bucket of water. Never attempt to re-light a firework.
  9. Avoid storing fireworks at all costs. If storing is your only option, be sure to keep them in a cool dry place and out of reach of children. Fireworks are fragile and often unpredictable explosive devices that can be set off by irregular conditions.
  10. Call the police if a neighbor is setting off fireworks too close to your home, or ask the person to stop. In the event of a fire, dial 911 immediately. A monitored fire alarm can also protect your home in your absence from wayward, unauthorized fireworks.

Following these basic safety tips will ensure a happy and safe celebration. However, the safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a community show put on by hired professionals. To find a list of firework shows in your area, please refer to the National Park Service’s event calendar.

Happy 237th birthday America!

Image Source: Vicky Brock via FlickR