July 4th Independence Day celebrations wouldn’t feel authentic without some sort of fireworks display. Many Americans enjoy professional, public displays of awe-inspiring pops and bursts of colors lighting the skies, but others create their own fireworks displays.
In Iowa, the sale of fireworks has been legal for several years. If you plan to purchase and use fireworks this year, take safety precautions. Even if you just stick with what we think of as "safer" options, such as sparklers, similar safety precautions apply.
Before handing sparklers over to children, consider these details from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC):
- Sparklers reach a temperature of up to 2000 degrees, the same as a blow torch. For that reason, young children, who most likely won’t understand the dangers of touching them, should not be allowed to handle them.
- In a real-life example from CPSC of sparkler abuse, a 17-year-old male created a “sparkler bomb” of about 300 sparklers taped together. When he attempted to put a bucket over the mass of lit sparklers, they exploded and killed the teen.
- About 12% of all fireworks injuries are caused by sparklers.
According to the National Fire Protection Association:
- From 2009-2013, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 18,500 fires caused by fireworks. These fires included 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires, and 16,900 outside and other fires.
- In 2017, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 12,900 people for fireworks related injuries; 22% of those injuries were to the head, ear or face and 31% involved fingers or hands.
- The risk of fireworks injury is highest for males (70%) and for people age 25-44 (34%). However, in a close second, children under the age of 15 experience 31% of all accidents.
The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public display put on by professionals, rather than creating your own display.
If you do use fireworks, however, read and follow these safety suggestions from the National Safety Council:
- Never allow young children to handle fireworks;
- Older children should use fireworks only under close adult supervision;
- Anyone using fireworks or standing nearby should wear protective eyewear;
- Never light fireworks indoors;
- Only use fireworks away from people, houses, and flammable material;
- Only light one device at a time and maintain a safe distance after lighting;
- Never ignite devices in a container;
- Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks;
- Soak unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding;
- Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don't go off or in case of fire.