by Jess Snyder
When it comes to fireworks, I am caught somewhere between youthful awe and sheer, trembling terror. My favorite way to view fireworks is to be tucked safely on a picnic blanket, watching the whirling rockets explode over a harbor of Lake Huron, snug with the knowledge that the burning ashes will stay well out of range. Watching my family dancing around a bonfire with bottle rockets in hand makes me uneasy, so I often retreat. My dad will usually frown at me at some point or another and tell me that I’m being ridiculous—would I like to light a mortar? No, I reply, I do not want to light a mortar or anything larger than a sparkler, thank you very much.
As it turns out, the Consumer Product Safety Commission agrees with my uneasiness of explosions. According to the most recent data, in 2010 approximately 8,600 people visited the emergency room thanks to both legal and illegal fireworks. 6,300 of these reports occurred within 30 days of the Fourth of July. Do not let the size of the firework fool you. Of the 6,300 injuries that happened in the Fourth of July season, 40% were the result of sparklers, bottle rockets, and small fire crackers. There were an estimated 1,200 injuries from sparklers alone.
No matter how competent your children are with pyrotechnics (hopefully not too competent), it is never a good idea to let them use fireworks unattended. Of all the injuries related to fireworks in 2010, 40% were sustained by children under the age of 15, with three reports of tragic fatalities.
To keep your holiday safe, remember these tips:
- Never assume qualities of a firework based on its size
- Do not let children play with fireworks
- Sparkers burn at 2,000 degrees—hot enough to melt some metals
- Avoid fireworks packaged in brown paper—this often signifies fireworks were made for professional displays
- Do not try to re-light fireworks that haven’t fully ignited
- Keep a bucket of water and a hose ready to douse any sparks that begin to catch fire
- Know what’s legal in your state
- Don’t forget the pets! Animals may be stressed by the noise, so keep them inside and check on them periodically
Whether you enjoy professionally managed fireworks or decide to host a show of your own, please be sure to do so safely. If you need help remembering any of the tips, I found a website with a few clever posters that are sure to keep them fresh in your memory. By keeping an eye on the festivities and staying well informed, you and I can relax a little more and maybe even enjoy the backyard spectacle. Maybe.
Jess Snyder joined the Spry Wellness Blog as a contributor in 2012. She is currently working to obtain an undergraduate degree in English and Communications at the University of Michigan.