A few years ago, my husband sustained a severe burn while helping put out a fire started from a stray firework. That year the firefighters said they had over 45 calls in our neighborhood alone. At this time, our county does not have a firework ban established. Weather permitting, residents are allowed to purchase and fire these sometimes fatal explosives.
According to "The Most Dangerous Fireworks Aren't Always the Biggest, " firecrackers, sparklers, and rockets are the top three most dangerous. Firecrackers are erratic and jump around on the ground. Sparklers are handheld and spew out extremely hot sparks. Rockets are lit on the ground, in a bottle or a fused box/tube, and explode into the air to burst. Ironically, these dangerous fireworks are the most popular. Sparklers are often considered to be child friendly, in reality, children should not use or light any firework.
During a two-week period before holidays like Independence Day, and New Year, fireworks are readily available. According to the American Pyrotechnics Association, the fireworks industry earns revenues over $900 million annually. As of 2009, the earnings were $945 million. In spite of safety risks, people are buying these entertaining little explosives. Many areas permit the sale and use of fireworks, so let's talk a little about firework safety.
Before setting off a firework, remember, fireworks are explosives. The whistling and booming sounds you hear are produced by flash powder. Colors are achieved by adding a variety of different chemicals. The explosive is compressed in a barrel with a paper barrier and fuse just waiting to be ignited by a flame. You should read and follow lighting instructions to ensure the safest possible experience.
Remember your pet! They get spooked easily, don't know to stay clear, and have very sensitive ears. While you have your fun outside, let them have some peace indoors.
Avoid consuming alcohol or drugs while using fireworks. Most firework accidents occur due to lack of judgment and mishandling the explosive. It is a known fact that these substances limit judgment, so leave the firework lighting to the sober people.
Never point a lit firework at another being, human or animal. Also, avoid aiming them at a structure. Fireworks should only be lit in an open area void of people, trees, power lines, or buildings.
Remember to wear eye protection. The slightest spark can damage your sensitive eye.
Adults only, never allow children to handle, set, or light a firework.
Never hover over a firework while lighting.
Use a punk to light the fuse. Punks are long sticks coated with a substance that burns without a flame. They look similar to stick incense. They are available where you buy fireworks and are usually free with purchase.
Only buy fireworks from a reputable dealer. Ensure what you buy has a label and proper instructions.
Never try to re-light a dud.
Only set one firework off at a time.
Keep water handy in case you have an accidental fire.
Never light fireworks under dry or drought conditions.
If you have to store your fireworks, keep them in a cool place, out of reach of small hands or animals, and away from any flammable materials.
After the fun, clean up should only be done by an adult. Spent fireworks should be soaked prior to disposal.
Remember to be safe when setting off fireworks. The booms and bursts are fun but best viewed at professional shows. If you choose to put on your own show, be cautious and keep firework safety in mind.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons (Share Alike) User Malene