As we celebrate our nation’s birthday, Americans are engaging in family cookouts, water fun, and the inevitable fireworks display. Fireworks are beautiful and magical, but can also be injurious and deadly, so the holiday is a good time to review fireworks safety tips to make sure your Independence Day memories are festive ones.

According to the U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), 4 people died and nearly 11,000 visited the emergency room on the Fourth of July, 2016, for treatment of fireworks-related injuries. And the New York Times reports an average of 230 people each day are seen in emergency rooms across the country during the month in and around the Independence Day holiday for injuries caused by fireworks.

Fireworks add a spark to any celebration, but that spark can turn injurious, even deadly, unless their handling is left to the experts. Many fireworks-related injuries occur because amateurs, rather than professionals, use high-powered, homemade, or illegal, explosives they are not prepared to handle.

Even lower-risk fireworks like sparklers can cause tremendous damage. Sparklers are small but burn at 2000 degrees, which is hot enough to melt metal, and definitely powerful enough to ignite clothing and other flammable materials. Always provide adult supervision when children are using sparklers.

Severe burns, eye injuries, and lost fingers are just some of the devastating injuries caused by firecrackers and bottle rockets because they are unpredictable and can explode without warning.

Fireworks Safety Tips

If you cannot resist celebrating with fireworks, follow these safety precautions to help avoid injuries to yourself and your guests:

  • Only purchase legal fireworks from licensed dealers.
  • Always wear eye and ear protection when using fireworks.
  • Never use fireworks while you are impaired by drugs or alcohol
  • Always use fireworks outdoors, never indoors.
  • Always have a sober, responsible adult handling and using fireworks.
  • Never allow children to handle or use fireworks.
  • Never shoot or light fireworks toward a person, structure, vehicle, or animal.
  • Do not point fireworks at yourself or another person when lighting.
  • Do not light multiple fireworks simultaneously; light fireworks one at a time.
  • Do not attempt to re-light a “dud”, or malfunctioning firework. Soak it in water, and discard it.
  • Always keep a fire extinguisher along with a bucket of water and/or a working hose nearby when using fireworks.
  • Do not use homemade or illegal fireworks.
  • When all else fails, READ THE INSTRUCTIONS BEFORE USE.
  • Do not use fireworks in an area that is dry, or where flammable materials are stored.
  • Soak all “duds” and exploded fireworks remnants, then throw them away in a container that does not contain flammable materials.

Although Kentucky law now allows people to purchase certain fireworks, such as sparklers, spinners, cone fountains, and smoke bombs, it’s also a good idea to check specific state laws and local ordinances before starting your fireworks celebration. Kentucky state law prohibits the use of fireworks within 200 feet of a structure, vehicle, person, or an animal, and some fire districts prevent the use of fireworks altogether.

Above all, be safe and take precautions while celebrating the red, white, and blue, and best wishes for a happy 4th of July from the Becker Law Office!