Fireworks displays are a hallmark of summer, and a frequent component of Independence Day celebrations and commemorative events that require a touch of flair. Awe-inspiring pyrotechnics shows lure millions of spectators around the world each and every year.
Many people experiment with fireworks on their own, but that can be dangerous. According to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, thousands of people are injured by fireworks in the United States each year. Whether purchased legally or on the black market, fireworks pose a considerable threat. Fireworks purchased on the black market may be especially dangerous, as they likely were not subjected to government regulations and inspections.
State Fire Marshal Mike Haney says the safest way to celebrate is by leaving the pyrotechnics to the professionals. He says home use of fireworks could cause personal or property damage and might also be prohibited by local ordinances.
Haney says those who decide to display fireworks at home should follow tips from the National Council on Fireworks to ensure a safe show. Those guidelines include reading directions, having responsible adult supervision, lighting one piece at a time in an area clear of trees and buildings and obeying all local laws.
Kentucky laws prohibit fireworks from being used within 200 feet of a structure.
The number of Americans planning to use backyard fireworks this Fourth of July is expected to hit an all-time high. In preparation for holiday celebrations, the National Council on Fireworks Safety (NCFS) encourages consumers to review all safety tips before purchasing and using fireworks.
“Every year, safety is our first priority as families begin to plan their Fourth of July festivities. While fireworks are the most iconic and festive way to celebrate our country’s independence, there can be dangers if fireworks are used improperly,” said Nancy Blogin, president of the National Council on Fireworks Safety. “Consumers should purchase fireworks from a reputable company or fireworks stand, check local and state laws for fireworks use in your city, and check all instructions on fireworks packaging before use.”
The fireworks industry has made great progress in improving firework quality and reducing injuries; however, there is still work to be done as the vast majority of fireworks-related injuries in the U.S. each year result from the misuse of fireworks.
The council has seen an increase in injuries among youth that have used fireworks in videos unsafely to impress their friends or to get a laugh. The council wants parents to help us put a stop to using fireworks in viral videos by encouraging safety and by explaining that the improper use of fireworks can produce serious injuries or even death.
“We have a collective responsibility as a community to put a stop to improper fireworks usage. If you see something that is unsafe, say something or report it to your local fire or police department,” said Blogin.
The NCFS’s mission is to educate the public on the safe use of fireworks and encourages consumers to follow the following safety tips before engaging in fireworks celebrations this Fourth of July:
• Obey all local laws regarding the use of fireworks.
• Know your fireworks; read the cautionary labels and performance descriptions before igniting.
• A responsible adult should supervise all firework activities. Never give fireworks to children.
• Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Save your alcohol for after the show.
• Wear safety glasses when shooting fireworks.
• Light one firework at a time and then quickly move away.
• Do not hold a fireworks item in your hand.
• Use fireworks outdoors in a clear area; away from buildings and vehicles.
• Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water before you discard it.
• After purchasing fireworks, always store them in a cool, dry place.
• When using fireworks always have a connected hose, bucket of water, or other water source nearby.
• Never carry fireworks in your pocket or shoot them into metal or glass containers.
• Do not experiment with homemade fireworks.
• Dispose of spent fireworks by wetting them down and place in a metal trashcan away from any building or combustible materials until the next day.
• Ensure all pets and animals are away from fireworks noise.
• With the rise in stress-related disorders affecting American service men and women, pay special consideration to individuals who may be sensitive to loud noises in proximity to your fireworks show.