Have a Happy 4th of July — Be Safe and Be Considerate
The National Safety Council says fireworks might be legal but are unsafe.
KidsHealth says fireworks might be legal but should not be used.
Safe Kids Worldwide says fireworks can cause serious harm to children, including devastating burns.
The National Fire Protection Association says with many fireworks displays being canceled because of the pandemic, consumers are opting to have fireworks displays of their own, putting them and their families in danger.
“The National Safety Council advises everyone to enjoy fireworks at public displays conducted by professionals, and not to use any fireworks at home,” according an article titled “Leave Fireworks to the Experts.”
“If not handled properly, fireworks can cause burns and eye injuries in kids and adults,” according to the KidsHealth Web site. “The best way to protect your family is not to use any fireworks at home – period. Attend public fireworks displays, and leave the lighting to the professionals.”
“More than 3,000 children under the age of 15 are sent to the emergency room each year in the United States because of fireworks,” according to Safe Kids Worldwide, which notes that sparklers, as innocuous as they seem, are just as dangerous as explosives. “Sparklers, which are commonly given to children during holidays and heat up to 1,200 degrees account for one-third of the injuries to children under five.”
“The only safe way to view fireworks is to attend a professional show,” according to a National Fire Protection Association infographic. “Fireworks cause thousands of injuries each year.”
The message parents should be getting as the Fourth of July approaches is to play it safe and create an alternative plan for the holiday that can be enjoyed without worrying about physical injuries. Here are some ideas for fun, fireworks-free festivities:
- Get a bunch of glow sticks that can be worn as bracelets and necklaces, or can be held and waved around, or can be tied to fences, light posts and trees in the back yard.
- Find some silly string in red, white and blue and have a silly string fight.
- Make a patriotic birthday cake for America, decorate it with flags and sing “Happy Birthday.”
- Go to a party-supply store or search online for noisemakers to create as much ruckus as fireworks would.
“At a glance, fireworks are a beautiful and sparkling sign of summer, especially during Memorial Day and 4th of July celebrations,” according to Good Housekeeping. “But when done incorrectly – ya know, like in your backyard – they can be extremely dangerous. In fact, the Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that there were 9,100 fireworks-related injuries and five deaths in 2018 alone – and on average, 180 people go to the emergency room every day for a related injury during July. Let it be known that fireworks, sparklers, and bottle rockets are equally as dangerous, especially for children: Kids under the age of 15 accounted for 36% of the fireworks-related injuries in 2018.
“The main issue at hand, of course, is that fireworks can cause serious burns (44% of reported injuries) and eye injuries (19% of reported injuries),” the magazine continues. “Hands, fingers, and legs are the most susceptible to burns, and severe eye injuries include corneal abrasions and retinal detachment. And while these injuries are enough to scare you (and rightly so), they’re totally preventable. The easiest – and recommended – way to avoid injuries is to let the professionals handle any (and all) fireworks displays.”
To add to all the human injuries from fireworks, the effects on animals can be severe. We live in a tropical paradise with a large amount of wild and domestic animals and our “fun with fireworks” exposes both groups to unnecessary physical, emotional and mental injury:
Dogs hear at a level completely imperceptible for humans; in fact humans hear at only a third of the capacity of dogs. This why the sound of fireworks can be so very harmful to dogs. They suffer very real and overwhelming anxiety because they cannot escape the, to them, very severe sound.
We have many equine areas in Palm Beach County and horses are constantly on high alert for possible predators – it is in their nature. Horses suffer similarly to dogs in the sense the sounds can be terrifying to them. Horses have the added potential for serious injury by trying to escape the sounds by jumping fences, running into electrical fences and injuries from running into obstacles.
Birds in flight can actually suffer tachycardia events from fireworks. The disorientation caused to birds from fireworks can actually cause them to fly into buildings and can permanently drive birds from nests filled with young birds.
With the above being said, it is unrealistic to expect everyone to play it safe or show good judgment. So here are tips to keep those with the lighters and the matches in their hands from ending up in the hospital:
- Read all labels and warnings before igniting fireworks.
- Make sure an adult supervises all handling of fireworks.
- Said adult should not be drinking, as alcohol and fireworks do not mix.
- Everyone in the presence of fireworks should wear safety goggles.
- Fireworks only should be lit outdoors and away from cars, houses and vegetation.
- Have a hose and a bucket nearby if a mishap occurs.
- Collect used fireworks by first wetting them and then disposing of them in a metal container.
“It is important for those using fireworks to be aware of these safety precautions, especially if there are children nearby,” according to Augusta Health. “During the month of July, children 14 years or less account for about 45% of injuries in relation to fireworks. Injuries from fireworks most commonly affect the hands, head, face, eyes and ears. Fireworks can be a great addition to any holiday celebration, but also serve as a possible danger. It is necessary to keep all of these safety tips in mind in order to safely enjoy your July 4th Holiday!”