Nothing rings in the new year quite like the pop and sizzle of fireworks streaking across the sky. New Year’s Eve fireworks celebrations can be done by professionals at large-scale event or right at home.

It may be tempting to think that because the celebration can happen in your own backyard, fireworks don’t pose much of a safety hazard. Not taking the risks seriously could leave you spending the new year on a cot in the emergency room.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) 2016 Fireworks Annual Report notes four non-occupational fireworks-related deaths and an estimated 11,100 injuries were caused by fireworks during the calendar year. Children younger than 15 accounted for 31 percent of those injuries.

Injuries to hands and fingers accounted for 33 percent of the total number with head, face and ear injuries accounting for another 20 percent. Misuse of fireworks and malfunctions, including setting them off improperly, tip-over accidents, short fuses, and errant flight paths were the most cited reasons for the injuries.

In 2015, Americans purchased an estimated 285 million pounds of fireworks, but not every city and state allows them. Be sure to check your local regulations before the big night.

For those in places that do allow consumer and/or professional fireworks, it’s important to remember the potential safety risks they pose. Follow these safety suggestions from the CPSC and the National Council on Firework Safety to ensure you don’t end up in this year’s Fireworks Annual Report:

  • Never allow young children near fireworks, including sparklers, which can burn as hot as a blow torch. Always have adult supervision.
  • Avoid fireworks in brown paper, which generally indicate they are intended for professional displays.
  • Never place any part of your body over a firework, carry one in your pocket, shoot one out of a glass container or point one at another person. Do not use homemade fireworks and always wear protective glasses.
  • Back up immediately after lighting a firework, and always light one at a time.
  • Never relight a dud; wait 20 minutes and then pour water on it.
  • Have a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby in case of a fire. Douse used or dud fireworks with water before placing them in a trash can. Move the trash can away from buildings and vehicles.
  • Don’t bring your pets to firework displays, and place pets in an interior room if fireworks are being used near your home.

While most firework-related accidents happen around July Fourth, any time they are present at a celebration they pose a potential safety hazard, especially to young children, and are not intended to be toys. Enjoy responsibly.

American Pyrotechnics Association
National Council on Firework Safety

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