In the age of a global pandemic, celebrating the Fourth of July is sure to be much different than years past with restrictions on large gatherings and required social distancing to stop the spread of COVID-19. But even backyard celebrations can end in a trip to the hospital for fireworks-related injuries if care isn’t taken, the Consumer Product Safety Administration (CPSC) cautions.
“Many Americans will not get to see the grand, professional fireworks displays this 4th of July given the cancellations of public celebrations and stay-at-home orders across the country. As an alternative, people are purchasing their own fireworks in an effort to recreate that tradition at home,” said CPSC Commissioner Dana Baiocco.
But fireworks can be dangerous. Last year, there were an estimated 10,000 emergency department-treated injuries and 12 fireworks-related deaths, nearly three-quarters of which occurred in the weeks surrounding the Fourth of July. Sparklers were the No. 1 cause of injuries, but one of the main causes of fireworks-related deaths occurred when victims held and ignited fireworks. In one case, a 21-year-old man lit a mortar-type firework while standing on the rooftop of an apartment complex. The firework ignited and exploded while the man was holding it over his head. He was critically injured, taken to the hospital, and died five days later.
“The need for safety awareness regarding fireworks is greater than ever,” Baiocco said, “and anyone who plans to use consumer fireworks this year should review and follow CPSC’s simple safety tips to prevent injuries and incidents.”
In an effort to reduce the number of fireworks-related causalities, the CPSC teamed up with Adam Savage, explosives expert and former co-host and producer of the Discovery Channel show “MythBusters.” They offered these tips to celebrate the Fourth of July safely:
- Never allow young children to play with, or ignite, fireworks, including sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit—hot enough to melt some metals.
- Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy, in case of fire or other mishap.
- Light fireworks one at a time, then move away quickly.
- Never try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them with water and throw them away.
- Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse.
- Move to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
- Never point or throw fireworks (including sparklers) at anyone.
- After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding the device to prevent a trash fire.
- Make sure fireworks are legal in your area, and only purchase fireworks that are labeled for consumer (not professional) use.