Firework Safety

By: Ali Gorman
By: Ali Gorman

While doctors and firefighters agree that the best way to prevent accidents with fireworks is by not using them, they offer some advice for people who still plan on buying and lighting fireworks this weekend.

Fire Marshall Barry Gaukel of the Lansing Fire Department says that even sparklers can be dangerous. He says if parents are going to allow their kids to use sparklers, make sure they are not wearing flammable clothing and that they hold the sparkler away from their body. He also says when using fireworks, have a bucket of water available in case of accidents.

Emergency Room attending physician Dr. Harkins says the most common injuries are burns to the hands and face, including eye injuries. She says to make sure all fireworks are not lit around anyone else and to remember, "What comes up must come down."

Firefighters also remind people not to set fireworks off near dry leaves or grass or to buy any illegal fireworks. Anything that comes off the ground is considered illegal in Michigan.

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Firework Safety Tips

  • Follow state guidelines and code.

  • Remember: The age limit for buying fireworks is 18.

  • ALL bangers are illegal for general sale.

  • Don’t buy fireworks if they are not marked as meeting BS 7114. They could be illegal imports.

  • Don’t attempt to use professional high-power fireworks, such as those used in organized displays. To the untrained, they are as lethal as hand grenades.

  • Keep fireworks in a closed box, take them out one at a time, and put the top back on straight away.

  • Follow the instructions on each firework carefully - read them by torchlight and never by naked flame.

  • Light the end of the firework’s fuse at arm’s length, preferably with a safety firework lighter or fuse wick.

  • Never throw fireworks.

  • Don’t let off fireworks in a street or public place - It’s not only dangerous, it’s also an offense.

  • Stand well back and never return to a firework once lit - it may go off in your face.

  • Never put fireworks in your pocket.

  • Keep pets indoors.

Mishap Statistics

  • Sparklers are the second highest cause of fireworks injuries requiring trips to the emergency room. Sparklers can heat up to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit, hot enough to melt gold.

  • From 1980-1994, fireworks accounted for 29 fires, 65 explosions and 114 deaths. The victims of these accidents ranged in ages from four months to 88-years-old.

  • Misuse caused 60 percent of injuries.

  • Data from the United States Eye Injury Registry shows that bystanders are more often injured by fireworks than operators themselves.

  • Forty-four percent of the injured are children ages 19-years-old and under.

  • On the 4th of July in a typical year, fireworks cause more fires in the U.S. than all other causes combined. But because most people encounter the risk of fireworks only once a year, many Americans do not realize how great that risk is.

Fireworks by Class

  • C Class - Consumer fireworks are determined by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and regulated in Code of Federal Regulations, Title 16, Parts 1500-1507 and they are controlled on a state-by-state basis by the State Fire Marshal's Offices.

  • D Class - Display fireworks are regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms in Code of Federal Regulations, Title 27 and their use is regulated by NFPA 1123, Code for the Display of Fireworks.

Sources: http://www.hertsdirect.org, http://www.preventblindness.org, and
http://www.nfpa.org, contributed to this report.


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