The Fourth of July is coming up, and you know what that means – fireworks! You may have already started hearing fireworks in your neighborhood. According to CNN, firework complaints are soaring.
These wonderful displays of light can be very dangerous if misused, so use care to ensure a fun and safe holiday celebration. However, due to COVID-19 many firework shows are being canceled and the sales of fireworks are increasing.
"The 4th of July is rapidly approaching and due to COVID-19, most of the professional displays have been canceled," said Dr. Lars Kneller, an emergency room physician at the new Franciscan Beacon Hospital. "I think as a result, more people will want to put on their own private displays, and this increases the risk for injury."
Thousands of people are injured every year due to fireworks, and the leading cause is misuse. Read directions very carefully and always set off fireworks far away from people, pets, and your home. Children are more likely to be injured by fireworks, and they should always be supervised if allowed to participate in the festivities.
"Stay away from M-Class fireworks, such as M-80s or M-100s," Dr. Kneller said. "They're very powerful and dangerous. Do not use fireworks packaged in brown paper, as they are meant for professionals only."
Sparklers, bottle rockets, firecrackers and Roman candles are especially popular among kids because they can be held in your hand. Although they are small, they can quickly turn into dangerous weapons. Sparklers can reach a temperature of 2,000°F, and bottle rockets are notorious of sending children to the emergency room with eye injuries. It's recommended that you don't allow children to play with fireworks. If you do allow your children to use these fireworks, have adult supervision, pay close attention and be sure to educate them on fire safety.
Even if you consider yourself an "expert" at putting on a firework display, accidents happen. You should always take extra steps to ensure your safety while showing off to the neighborhood. Follow these firework safety tips:
- Only set off ONE firework at a time and move far away once a firework is lit.
- Never relight a dud because it could go off when you least expect it.
- Keep a bucket of water close in case of a fire or to discard faulty fireworks. "When you're done, douse everything in water to make sure they are out, including sparklers that the children may use," Dr. Kneller said.
- Do not consume alcohol while using fireworks. "I think it's obvious, but avoid alcohol while you're shooting off fireworks," Dr. Kneller said. "You need to have a clear mind." Nothing good can come from this combination!
- Never point fireworks at other people. And when using handheld fireworks, be sure to stand far away from others. "Don't light a firework in your hand, there's a potential for serious injury if you do," Dr. Kneller said.
Leave It To The Professionals
More than one-third of those injured by fireworks in Indiana were age 18 or younger, with one-fourth of those injured by fireworks being under the age of 12, according to 2017 numbers from the Indiana State Department of Health.
"It's important to know the Indiana firework laws," Dr. Kneller said. "One must be 18 or older to purchase fireworks. An adult must be present for a child to use any fireworks."
The Indiana Department of Insurance is cautioning homeowners and renters that accidental damage caused by fireworks may not be covered by their insurance policies. Many policies contain provisions that disclaim coverage for illegal acts committed by the insured, so it is important to know the rules and regulations surrounding the use of fireworks.
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Essential Guidelines for Fireworks Safety