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Firework safety tips for a disaster-free summer

With a number of summer holidays just around the corner, your celebrations are sure to include some fireworks shows. But with 15,600 emergency room visits and 18 deaths caused by firework injuries in 2020—and two-thirds of those accidents occurring between June 21 and July 21—fireworks can pose serious risks. The good news is that all injuries caused by amateur firework displays are 100% preventable. The number one way to stay safe is to get your firework fix from shows put on by professionals in your township or city. You should not purchase and set off your own fireworks if you want to avoid fireworks-related injuries. If you’re not convinced against doing your own at-home display, though, here are some of the most important steps to minimize the risk posed to you, those around you and your property.

Obey regulations:

States differ in their laws regarding home firework usage, so you should check your local rules before purchasing fireworks. Never buy fireworks that you know are illegal, and never purchase any packaged in brown paper as these are typically intended for professionals only and pose a grave risk to amateurs. Under no circumstance should you ever make your own fireworks or use any that are illegal—this is a surefire way to sustain an injury. But just because certain fireworks may be legal in your state does not mean they are safe. There are still severe risks associated with setting off legal fireworks at home.

Celebrate responsibly:

No one should attempt to use or light fireworks under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Of the 18 people who died due to firework injuries in 2020, nearly half had used alcohol or drugs before setting them off. Going to local displays put on by professionals instead of doing them yourself eliminates this risk while still allowing you to enjoy alcoholic beverages, provided there is a designated driver if you must travel to view the display. Children should never be left alone with fireworks or allowed near them when lit. Even teenagers should be watched with a careful eye and never left alone while around them, lit or not. Fireworks should only be set off outside, far away from people, houses or anything else flammable. They should not be put in containers. Do not point lit or even previously lit fireworks at anyone.

Never relight fireworks:

If your firework malfunctions and does not light, do not attempt to light it again. Instead, douse it with water from a hose or bucket and wait several hours before picking it up and disposing of it. All used fireworks should be left to soak before attempting to touch them. If you do not end up using some, it is safer to douse them with water and dispose of them rather than save them in your garage or house, in case of a house fire or explosion that could unintentionally light the fireworks. Sparklers are not necessarily safe options either, though. Even these can get up to 2,000 degrees and pose the risk of severe burns. Around one-quarter of all fireworks-related ER visits are attributed to sparkler usage. Remember: the safe choice is to ditch the DIY for a professional show to avoid unnecessary and preventable risks. But if you are going to be doing legal at-home fireworks this summer, be sure to keep a bucket of water or a hose nearby and follow the safety tips above.