According to the National Safety Council, in 2017, eight people died and over 12,000 were injured badly enough to require medical treatment after fireworks-related incidents. Of these, 50% of the injuries were to children and young adults under the age of 20. Over two-thirds of these injuries took place from mid-June to mid-July. Those most of these accidents were due to amateurs attempting to use professional-grade, homemade or other illegal fireworks or explosives, an estimated 1,200 injuries were from less powerful, legal devices including small firecrackers and sparklers.
In addition to injuries, fireworks start an average of 18,500 fires each year, including 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires and nearly 17,000 other fires. To make sure your Fourth of July celebrations do not end with a visit from the local first responders or trip to the emergency room, we suggest following these guidelines from the National Safety Council.
- Never allow young children to handle fireworks
- Older children should use them only under close adult supervision
- Never use fireworks while impaired by drugs or alcohol
- Anyone using fireworks or standing nearby should wear protective eyewear
- Never hold lighted fireworks in your hands
- Never light them indoors
- Only use them away from people, houses and flammable material
- Never point or throw fireworks at another person
- Only light one device at a time and maintain a safe distance after lighting
- Never ignite devices in a container
- Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks
- Soak both spent and unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding
- Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don’t go off or in case of fire
- Never use illegal fireworks
Even sparklers can be hazardous
If using the ever popular sparklers, remember they burn at over 2,000 degrees. The National Fire Protection Association reports that sparklers alone account for more than 25% of emergency room visits for fireworks injuries. For children under 5 years old, sparklers accounted for nearly half of the total estimated injuries. Always supervise children using sparklers, no bare feet – have them wear shoes, keep a buck of water handy and just like scissors, no running with sparklers. Also no using sparklers wearing loose or flowy clothing and make sure the kids know to keep them away from their face.
When planning your celebration, make sure to purchase legal fireworks or choose safer alternatives such as glow sticks and confetti poppers. Better yet, leave the pyrotechnics to the professionals and attend one of the many public celebrations held in Annapolis and the surrounding communities. Be sure to check our roundup of Independence Day celebrations being held throughout Maryland.