JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Setting off fireworks is a popular way of celebrating the Fourth of July. But whether you’re lighting them or watching someone else do it, it’s important to keep safety in mind over the holiday weekend.
That’s because as fun as fireworks are, they can also be dangerous. If you’re not careful, they can result in injuries and even death. That was evident last year when fireworks-related injuries and deaths increased by 50 percent, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Eighteen people died in 2020 and 15,600 people were treated in the emergency room as a result of incidents involving fireworks, figures compiled by the government agency show. To put that in perspective, the CPSC recorded 12 fireworks-related deaths and roughly 10,000 injuries in 2019.
“These tragic deaths and injuries are reminders of just how dangerous fireworks can be,” CPSC Acting Chairman Robert Adler said. “Consumers should enjoy professional fireworks displays from a distance, and be extra vigilant when using consumer-type fireworks.”
Never launch fireworks off your body. pic.twitter.com/reimvMtiLE— US Consumer Product Safety Commission (@USCPSC) July 1, 2021
Two-thirds of fireworks-related injuries recorded last year occurred in the month around Independence Day, according to the CPSC. Nearly half (44 percent) of fireworks-related injuries last year were burns. The biggest culprits for these injuries were firecrackers (1,600 injuries) and sparklers (900 injuries).
At least 18 people died from fireworks-related incidents in 2020, compared to 12 reported for the previous year. About 15,600 people were treated in hospital emergency departments for fireworks injuries in 2020. There were about 10,000 ER-treated fireworks injuries in 2019.— US Consumer Product Safety Commission (@USCPSC) July 1, 2021
It’s because of those risks that the CPSC is encouraging people to celebrate the holiday safely. The agency posted a series of clips on its Twitter feed showing how dangerous fireworks can be when you’re not careful. For instance, you should not launch fireworks at other people, or from your own body.
The risks aren’t lost on Melissa Goodman, who works at TNT Fireworks. “Definitely brings things to light how important safety is and understanding that before you start,” Goodman said Friday.
Like Goodman, customer Mary Bell said her family understands the dangers associated with fireworks can takes steps to make sure their children are safe when fireworks are being set off. “I think we’re as cautious as we can be,” Bell said.
In Florida, you must be 18 years old to purchase fireworks. Besides being of age, the CPSC says there other ways to make sure your family’s holiday celebration doesn’t result in an unexpected trip to the emergency room.
Fireworks safety tips
- Don’t let children play with or set off fireworks
- Light fireworks one at a time, then back away
- Do not try to pickup or reignite ‘dud’ fireworks
- Avoid using fireworks while under the influence
- Never point or throw fireworks at other people
- Douse used fireworks with water to prevent fires
- Keep a bucket of water handy in case of a fire
For a complete list of safety tips, check out this guide compiled by the CPSC.