I am sure you don’t need to be told how dangerous fireworks are. As we approach the 4th of July weekend, many of us are planning to include fireworks at our BBQ’s and family get-togethers. Since there are inherent dangers using fireworks let’s review some safety tips to keep you and those around you safe this 4th of July!
Be Aware of the Laws in Your Area
Before you start planning your fireworks block party, you should check your local municipality’s laws on fireworks. St. Louis city, county and Illinois have outright bans on the use of fireworks. Violators can face a $500.00 minimum fine or jail time for breaking these laws. Missouri statutes also detail that no person under the age of 17 should be in possession, handle, or ignite any fireworks.
Check Your Shopping List
The first thing to consider is the size of the fireworks you are purchasing. If you live in a residential area, it’s best to stick to smaller fireworks and fountains. Talk with the experts at the place of purchase and be conservative in the size and weight of each firework. The number of grams you buy determines the power of the explosion. Also, consider doing a ground show rather than launching explosives into the air, With a denser population, the risk of the fireworks hitting power lines, houses, trees or even people is higher.
Be Prepared for Safety
You’ve checked your local legislation and have chosen appropriate fireworks for your location — What’s next? Be prepared in case things go awry! Fireworks are known for their unpredictable nature which increases the risk of misfires and explosions. Have a fire extinguisher and running water readily available in case a mishap occurs. Fireworks start an average of 18,000 fires each year. Most accidents and injuries occur when inexperienced individuals ignite them or the fireworks are too large for them to safely deploy.
Many fireworks, when discharged, produce sounds at 150-170 decibels. Hearing damage can occur at only 110 decibels. Some of these effects may only last 24-48 hours, however it’s common to have lasting hearing damage or permanent tinnitus caused by the excessive levels of sound that fireworks produce. Ear protection is always recommended whenever you will be near a firework display especially for young children. To be safe, adults need to be at least 50-65 feet away from the blast, and children need a distance of at least 150 feet away.
Remember even sparklers can be dangerous! These seemingly innocent fireworks burn at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and account for 25% of the emergency room visits due to firework mishaps! Remember that before you hand them to children this 4th of July!
Drink After the Show, Please!
Another factor that causes higher volume of patients in the ER each year, are individuals who have gotten injured using fireworks while impaired. Using fireworks responsibly also means abstaining from alcohol before taking part in setting off fireworks.
Quick Tips and Facts
- Never hold lit fireworks in your hands
- Always have water or a fire extinguisher nearby
- Do not use fireworks while impaired
- Never try to relight a dud or un-exploded firework
- Spent fireworks should be soaked in water for several hours before discarding
- Never try to light more than one firework at a time
For more information on firework safety, take a look at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission‘s site. Have a great 4th of July weekend and be safe!
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