The thrills and excitement that comes with the Fourth of July festivities in dazzling lights, date back to the 7th century in China. The legendary story of the fireworks’ invention is told. It was an accident by a Chinese cook in a work field kitchen who happens to mix charcoal, sulfur, and saltpeter together. (Please don’t try this!) This was during the time of the Tang Dynasty. It continues to be a part of China’s culture and has spread to many other societies throughout the world. For the people in the United States, the fourth of July is only one of the main holidays that fireworks are used in the festive activities. The dazzling display of combustible chemicals (also called gunpowder or pyrotechnics, firecrackers) mostly ignited into a spectacular explosion in a grand outdoor celebration, comes with a price. When it is not employed with safety, injuries, hospital emergencies, and even death can accompany this joyous activity.
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC dot gov.) established regulations on this hazardous material because it is not used responsibly, injuries and well as fatality can occur. CPSC reports the statistics, regulations, laws, and safety guides to be viewed by the public. Just Fourth of July alone, in 2014, injuries from the types of fireworks were: 19% from sparklers, 9% reloadable shells, 20% firecrackers, 4% roman candles, 2% bottle rockets, 6% novelties, 2% multiple tubs, 1% fountains, 31% unspecified and 4% public display. It is not always children who are injured. It’s the adults between the ages 25-44 who are most likely injured, with 74% male and 26% female.
The CPSC recommends several safety features in handling fireworks in order to have a safe and joyous evening. By knowing and practicing safety in using fireworks will definitely reduce the risks of injury.
II have compiled preventive measures which can help ensure your holiday is safe and enjoyed by all who are with you:
- Obey all local community ordinances in the use of fireworks. There are some states that have made fireworks, illegal. Even if the fireworks are ordered online, when they came into a state where fireworks are banned; the person ordering them can be fined if the package that is shipped is open by inspectors of contraband search.
- Only responsible adults, not children, should use the firecrackers with proper care, following the cautionary label, instructions and expected performance of the fireworks. This includes the wearing of safety eyeglasses. Carry firecrackers in a container, not in your pocket. It is imperative that the responsible adult knows what to expect from the explosive before it is ignited. The adult needs to know these expectations for the benefit of self and all spectators. Follow the instructions on the proper use on how to ignite them in a safe mode. Never experiment with homemade fireworks.
- ” Be sober, be vigilant, the life you save may be your own.”
- Do not allow children to play with these explosives
- A safe place: All fireworks are designed to be used outdoors not in the house or any enclosed building. A common problem people have with the firecrackers is they are not giving themselves enough space to get away from the rockets that is going off, but also not giving the crowd enough space either. Even a small family fireworks show tends to draw in the neighbors.
- Fireworks should never be ignited in a container, glass or metal.
- Never try to relight fireworks that do not light well the first time, keep a bucket of water on hand, light fireworks one at a time, move back quickly from a lighted fireworks, and
- Don’t use illegal fireworks. (Courtesy of CPSC) As a responsible consumer, the adult should report all illegal pyrotechnics like M-80s and quarter sticks to law and safety authority such as the fire department or police department.
- It will do well to invite someone from your local Fire Department/ Fire Marshall/ Police Department to provide training in the use and disposal of fireworks materials before engaging into its use for your holiday activity.
Two examples of a fatality by the improper use of fireworks:
“A 25-year-old male died of blunt force trauma head injuries. According to witnesses, the victim lit a shell and placed it in a launching tube and held it over his head. The shell went off and hit the victim in the top of the head. The victim fell to the ground instantly. He was transported to a local hospital by emergency responders and was pronounced dead. The victim had been drinking alcohol before the incident. (Reported by Consumer Product Safety Commission, “Fireworks”, Publication #12)
“A 44-year-old male was killed when a mortar shell firework exploded. According to witnesses, after successfully launching three shells with the launching tube on the cement ground, the victim decided to launch the fourth shell while holding the launch tube with his arms extended and the tube pointed in an upward angle. The tube blew up from the back and hit the victim directly in the chest, knocking him backwards eight to ten feet into a fence. He died shortly after the explosion. Medical examiners found, the tube’s base plug, which measured 1-7/8″ in diameter and 2-1/8″ tall, deep inside the victim’s chest. (Reported by Consumer Product Safety Commission, “Fireworks”, Publication #12)
Remember, It is better to be safe than sorry.
HAVE A SAFE HOLIDAY!!