To the relief of kids everywhere, summer is finally here. Whether your days are filled with picnics, carting kids to summer camps, or relaxing by the beach, there’s no denying the celebratory feeling in the air. And what tends to accompany melting ice cream, fireflies, and backyard barbecues? Fireworks, of course! While these light-displays are dazzling and exciting, fireworks are far from child’s play. Knowing how to safely use and interact with these summertime spectaculars is vital for keeping you and others around you safe.
Types of Fireworks
Most people think of the big, bombastic July 4th fireworks as the stereotypical definition, but fireworks can come in many shapes and sizes. All require handling with care, and none—not even the most innocent in appearance—should be handled by children.
- Sparklers: Popular at everything from weddings to parade routes to festivals, these are the most likely to find their way into the hands of the smallest firework enthusiasts. Despite the pretty picture they make, sparklers typically burn at around 2,000 degrees. This can light clothing on fire, as well as resulting in burnt hands and feet—known to doctors as ICD-10 codes 23 and T.25 respectively.
- Bottle rockets: Common among teenagers looking for a bit of reckless, summer fun, bottle rockets are far from appropriate playthings. Common injuries include bruising, abrasions, and burns. Particularly alarming are the results of a bottle rocket coming in contact with the eye area; many children in a study conducted by the Vanderbilt University Medical Center report reduced vision, if not legal blindness as a result of a direct encounter.
- Firecrackers: Firecrackers are designed to explode on the ground. Noisy, and often linked together in one long fuse, firecrackers can cause burns and other injuries. These should never be used in crowded areas—like a neighborhood block party—where feet and lower extremities are at risk.
- Roman candles: Also known as Catherine Wheels, these fireworks eject multiple exploding shells from a long tube that the user holds in their hands. Unsurprisingly, roman candles are responsible for a number of injuries, including severe burns and missing fingers (known as 0 and S68 respectively).
- M-class fireworks: Examples include cherry bombs, M-80s, M-100s, and M-250s. Regardless of how experienced someone is with explosives, these items are illegal in the United States (and Canada) and shouldn’t be used under any circumstance.
Just like any other potentially dangerous item, fireworks should be handled by those with sufficient knowledge and experience to handle them properly. If you’re curious whether you have the correct knowledge to handle fireworks, you can take a quiz provided by the National Council on Fireworks Safety here.
Fireworks laws vary by state. Some states—Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island—completely prohibit consumer fireworks. The remaining 45 states are laxer (though it should be noted Arizona only allows novelty items). However, regardless of where your summer celebrations are scheduled to take place, some safety precautions are universal. The National Council on Fireworks Safety offers these suggestions:
- Purchase fireworks from a reputable source
- Use fireworks as directed by the consumer product safety label
- Observe local laws (and adding a dash of common sense isn’t out of place, either)
- A responsible adult should supervise all firework related activities
- Young children should NEVER handle fireworks of any sort
- Alcohol and fireworks should, and do, not mix; alcoholic beverages should only be consumed after the fireworks are finished
- Fireworks should be used outside and away from buildings, vehicles, and other pedestrians
- Have water on hand whenever fireworks are being fired
If you and your family are inexperienced when it comes to fireworks, the safest option of all would be to grab a blanket and a patch of lawn after looking up your local firework extravaganza. Let professionals do the work, and save yourself the trouble of an emergency room visit. No matter what your summer celebrations entail—fireworks or no fireworks, we here at InSync wish you a safe and fun season!