Celebrate safely with these fireworks safety tips

Summer is here, and this Fourth of July, families and friends are gathering for celebrations after more than a year of social distancing due to the pandemic. Although the table may be filled with everyone’s favorite potluck dish, there is another summertime staple that Americans need to be cautious about — using fireworks at home. These fun, bright bursts can make barbecues and parades more exciting, but they can also be extremely dangerous without taking the proper precautions.

With so much time at home in 2020, the U.S. saw a 50% increase in deaths and injuries related to fireworks, compared to 2019. An estimated 15,600 people were treated for fireworks injuries in 2020, and sadly, at least 18 people died from fireworks-related incidents in home settings.

“The number of deaths and injuries are reminders of just how dangerous fireworks can be,” said Robert Adler, acting chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. “Protect yourself and your family by leaving powerful fireworks to the professionals and being extra vigilant when using consumer-type fireworks.”

This summer, take a safer approach to fireworks, and follow these important tips for using fireworks.

1. Only adults should handle fireworks.

Never allow young children to play with, or ignite, fireworks, including sparklers. Sparklers can burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit — hot enough to melt some metals. It is never safe for young children to handle fireworks. Let a relative hold the sparkler, and let the children admire sparklers from a safe distance.

Any person who has consumed alcohol or drugs should not use fireworks. Of the 18 related deaths in 2020, eight individuals (44 percent) had used alcohol or drugs before the incident.

2. Keep water handy.

Make sure to have a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby before lighting fireworks. If there is a fire or a mishap, make sure there is easy access to water to help extinguish the flames quickly.

3. Light fireworks one at a time.

Although you may be tempted, never light more than one firework at a time. Just light one, then quickly move away, to watch the firework from a safe distance.

4. Never handle malfunctioning fireworks.

If a firework does not seem to be working correctly, or it won’t hold a flame, do not try to fix it or re-light it. Place any malfunctioning fireworks in your bucket of water to soak, and then throw them away.

5. Keep a safe distance when lighting the fuse.

Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device. Hold your arm far away from your body while you light the fuse, then immediately move away. Hands and fingers are the most common body parts injured by fireworks.

6. Do not throw fireworks.

Fireworks are always dangerous, even before they are lit. Never point or throw fireworks, including sparklers, at anyone. Always be careful when transporting them.

7. Soak spent or complete fireworks in water

When finished burning your fireworks, douse the spent devices with plenty of water from a bucket or hose. This will prevent any fire dangers when the fireworks are discarded in the trash.

8. Celebrate legally.

Before purchasing fireworks or planning a celebration, make sure it is legal to have and use fireworks in your area. Be sure to purchase fireworks that are labeled for consumer use only — not professional use.

It’s time to celebrate the birthday of our nation, and we hope you will do so safely. Enjoy the beauty of fireworks, and remember these tips to keep you and your family safe this summer.

For more information and additional fireworks safety tips visit www.cpsc.gov/fireworks.

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