Fireworks Safety – Most Will Enjoy 4th July Festivities at Home

With most, if not all, 4th July fireworks displays canceled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, instead of going to a show, many people may be tempted to put on their own with store-bought fireworks.

According to the American Pyrotechnics Association (APA), the following are expressly prohibited in California:

Firecrackers, skyrockets, rockets, roman candles, chasers, all wire & wooden stick sparklers, surprise items, friction items, torpedoes, firework kits, and fireworks containing arsenic, phosphorus, thiocyanates magnesium (magnesium-aluminum alloys permitted ), mercury salts, picrates or picric acid, gallates or gallic acid, chlorates (with few exceptions), boron, titanium (except particle sizes larger than 100 mesh), zirconium, gunpowder, and fireworks kits.

The use of illegal fireworks is widespread and comprises a significant percentage of the injuries that are attributed to fireworks every year.

According to 4 CBS Miami, in Miami-Dade County, FL, sparklers were the leading cause of injuries, accounting for an estimated 900 injuries. Similar to last year, nearly half of the estimated emergency department-treated, fireworks-related injuries were to individuals younger than 20 years of age.

And safety professionals warn that hand sanitizers and fireworks don’t, and shouldn’t, mix.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Council (CPSC), 57% of firework-related injuries were burns. People were more likely to hurt their hands and fingers than any other part of their body, which could be caused by holding the firework too long after it’s ignited or using hands as a shield if someone points a firework at someone else.

Follow these safety tips when using fireworks: 

  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
  • Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.
  • Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don’t realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt some metals.
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • 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 back quickly.
  • Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
  • After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.

Additionally, fireworks start an average of 18,500 fires each year, including 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires, and nearly 17,000 other fires.

Kaiser Permanente offers the following tips if you’re planning your weekend activities at home:

  • Avoid inside home gatherings. Host it outside and keep it small;
  • Share your list of safety precautions with your guests and ensure they intend to follow them;
  • Maintain a 6-foot distance from those outside of your household;
  • Require all guests, including children over 2 years old, to wear a face covering over chin, mouth, and nose completely when not eating or drinking;
  • Make sure soap, water, and hand sanitizer are readily available for handwashing;
  • With the exception of grilled items, bring your own food and drinks to gatherings;
  • Use single-use (disposable) utensils, plates, cups, etc., and throw away your own garbage;
  • Establish separate dining spaces for your household and for your guest family;
  • Avoid contact sports, but swimming is OK as long as distance is maintained.
  • Remind guests that if they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or been recently exposed, they should not attend.;
  • Be sure to follow local public health guidance.