It is said that children should not play with matches and it stands to reason that this would transfer to the North American toy of July…Fireworks. Pyrotechnics are intended for big kids, but it is the curiosity of most kids that leads to them fooling with fireworks and having accidents. Bottom line is that fireworks, even sparklers, should be treated like firearms. Like firearms, fireworks can be used safely with some training on safe handling and knowledge of the damage they can do when mishandled.
Of course using consumer fireworks on Canada Day and the 4th of July is a tradition in North America. And it can be safe, in states where it is legal, if a few common sense rules are followed. Ralph Apel, the spokesperson for the National Council on Fireworks Safety. Consumer fireworks go through vigorous third-party testing in China before being shipped to the United States. But he notes, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC”), there were an estimated 9,600 fireworks related injuries during the Fourth of July season in 2011. Most of these injuries would not have occurred if the fireworks had been used under close adult supervision and if some basic safety steps had been taken.
The National Council on Fireworks Safety offers these common sense safety tips for using fireworks:
- Know your fireworks; Read the warning labels and performance descriptions before igniting.
- Have a designated shooter to organize and shoot your family show.
- Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Save your alcohol for after the show.
- Parents and caretakers should always closely supervise teens if they are using fireworks.
- Parents should not allow young children to handle or use fireworks.
- Fireworks should only be used outdoors.
- Always have water ready if you are shooting fireworks.
- Obey local laws. If fireworks are not legal where you live, do not use them.
- Wear safety glasses whenever using fireworks.
- Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
- Soak spent fireworks with water before placing them in an outdoor garbage can.
- Never attempt to alter or modify consumer fireworks and use them only in the manner in which they were intended.
- Report illegal explosives, like M-80s and quarter sticks, to the fire or police department. These are too big for most consumers
Some tips I’d add from my experience include:
- Don’t throw duds in the fire pit.
- Examine fireworks in the daylight and organize your display then so you are not fumbling in the dark.
- Have flashlights and spare flashlights available.
- Consider ear plugs or another type of hearing protective device.
- If multiple people are igniting the fireworks make sure you have enough distance to move freely and safely.
- Have plenty of lighters, especially the candle ones available for the designated firework igniters
- Rope off, or designate the area were fireworks will be lit and separated enough from the spectators
- Know how your pet will react to the noise and smells
And remember that even some Big Kids (aka Adults) should not play with fireworks!