Fireworks Beautiful but Potentially Dangerous

Tips to keep it safe

With Independence Day right around the corner, you might be thinking picnics, parades, and fireworks shows. As fun as fireworks are, they are dangerous. Think about it: fireworks are little exploding devices. According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2016 there were 11,100 people who were injured and treated in emergency rooms for firework related injuries. And of the firework-related injuries, more than 69% of them were burns.

Fireworks are beautiful, but they’re also dangerous. Every year, fire departments across the country prepare for their busiest time of year. “We have already increased coverage for the weekend in anticipation of fireworks-related fires and injury,” tells Grand Rapids Firefighter Matthew Gonzalez. “There are too many risks associated with fireworks that all homeowners want to avoid.”

It Might Cause a Fire

Fireworks are not a misnomer.  You will certainly be working with fire, and one wrong move is all it takes to start a fire.  The chance of starting a fire multiplies if the climate is dry, and especially increases if there are fire warnings to begin with.  Even something as innocent as simple sparklers can set off a fire, if you don’t properly make sure that the flame is out before you throw them away.

In 2013, in the United States alone, fireworks caused an estimated 15,600 reported fires, including 1,400 total structure fires, 200 vehicle fires, and 14,000 outside and other fires, according to the  National Fire Protection Association. These fires resulted in an estimated $21 million in direct property damage. More than one-quarter (28%) of fires started by fireworks in 2009-2013 were reported on Independence Day. Almost half (47%) of the reported fires on the Fourth of July were started by fireworks

Stay Away in General

The most common cause of fireworks-related injuries is being too close.  When you light a firework, it explodes. 

While sparklers might seem like the “wimpiest” or least dangerous, they actually burn at temperatures around 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.  “You have to keep fireworks, especially sparklers, away from kids, they burn as hot as a blowtorch,” Elliot F. Kaye, Consumer Products Safety Commission Chairman said.  This is hot enough to melt many types of metals and cause significant burns. If you give one to your child, make sure you can provide constant supervision to ensure that they don’t get too close.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports 230 people on average go the emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries in the month around the July 4th holiday. In 2013, there were eight deaths and an estimated 11,400 consumers who sustained injuries related to fireworks. Sixty-five percent, or 7,400, of the injuries in 2013, occurred in the 30 days surrounding July 4, 2013, according to CPSC‘s latest data.

Homeowners’s coverage

Does your home insurance cover fireworks injuries and damage? The answer is complicated, according to Insurance.com. Most home insurance policies provide several different types of protection — each with varying payout limits. Also, there are different types of accidents.

If you’re shooting off illegal fireworks and set fire to your house, you may not be covered. Most policies exclude damage resulting from illegal acts or when you purposely caused injury or damage. If you get into a bottle-rocket war and injure someone, you may not be covered because the incident was intentional. Always follow Michigan law when using fireworks to better your chances of insurance and avoidance of injury.

While it may be fun to host a firework show in your own backyard, sometimes it’s best to leave it to the professionals. With so many reported injuries and fires, protect your family from risk and avoid home fireworks. “If you don’t know how to safely light fireworks or you’re unsure, just don’t do it,” says Gonzalez. From the Grand Rapids Fire Department and the Home Builders Association team, have a fun and safe Fourth of July!

If you can’t live without shooting fireworks off here are some tried and true safety tips to review. It could save you from a trip to the hospital!

Never Let Children Play with Fireworks

  • Don’t let young children play with firework. The CPSC recommends that children under 5 not handle any fireworks.
  • Don’t let children use sparklers or any other form of firework without close supervision. Sparklers can burn at 2000 degrees Fahrenheit! Be very careful!
  • Don’t let children ignite fireworks either.

 Use the Fireworks According to their Directions

  • Always read the directions for the fireworks before use
  • Review your local laws on firework usage
  • Only use fireworks outdoors in a cleared area
  • Light only one firework at a time and quickly move away after lighting
  • Wear safety glasses when setting off fireworks
  • Make sure to have a bucket of water or a hose ready in case you need to put out a firework
  • Never set off any illegal explosives. Report them to your fire or police department
  • Never carry fireworks in your pocket

 Dispose of Fireworks Safely

  • Do not relight “dud” fireworks. If it does not go off, wait 20 minutes and then place the firework in a bucket of water.
  • When disposing of fireworks, wet them before placing them in a metal trash can away from any buildings or combustible materials.

 Keep an Eye Out For Your Pet

  • Do not bring your pet to a firework show, even if they are cute.
  • If you are setting off fireworks at home, put them inside your home or in a crate away from the explosives.
  • Make sure your pet has the proper ID just in case they run off during the fireworks.
  • Do not launch fireworks, or anything of the like, near your pet

 Other Things to Keep in Mind

  • Avoid buying fireworks with brown paper packaging. This may be a sign that the fireworks were produced for professional use.
  • Never point a firework at another person
  • Do not drink alcohol when using fireworks. Alcohol impairs judgment and it can be unsafe.
  • Instead of setting off fireworks at home, consider going to your local fireworks show and enjoy them there. It’s safer than doing fireworks in your backyard.

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