Is your fireworks display safe? Tips to avoid a trip to the ER

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WDAF) – Independence Day means fireworks. Fireworks mean fun explosions – if they’re done right.

Although that seems straightforward enough, thousands of people each year still require medical care due to accidents, unsafe practices and illegal firecracker use. About 2,500 people were injured in 2019, according to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission website. Nine-hundred of those injuries came from simple sparklers. Eighteen people were killed in 2020, up from 12 the year before.

That’s a lot of doom and gloom for what’s supposed to be a joyous celebration. So, what’s the best way to celebrate while keeping safety in mind and injuries at bay?

Here’s a list of safety tips provided by the CPSC. If your firework plans go against these guidelines, you might be better off watching a professional show:

Fireworks safety tips

  • Never allow young children to play fireworks.
  • Don’t buy fireworks that are packaged in brown paper – this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and more dangerous.
  • Try to get an adult there. Parents don’t realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt metal.
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a product or launch tube when lighting the fuse.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly. Get to a safe distance right after lighting fireworks.
  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully. Douse them with water from a safe distance after waiting for them to cool down.
  • After fireworks are spent, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before throwing it away – don’t start a trash fire.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
  • Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.

Lit fireworks facts

An estimated 15,600 people got injured from fireworks in 2020, according to the CPSC. That’s 5,600 more injuries than the year before. The pandemic interrupted a lot of public displays, which inevitably prompted more people to set of their own firecrackers.

“When it comes to fireworks, you can never be too careful, so practice being overly cautious when fireworks are present,” Gina Wilken, public affairs specialist for State Farm, said.

However, ending up in the ER isn’t the only thing you need to think about. You can also light property on fire.

Yes, it has happened a lot before. In 2018, fireworks sparked 19,500 fires according to the National Fire Protection Association. Those blazes caused $105 million in direct property damage.

Wilken recommended calling your insurance agent to check your coverage. She said most homeowner’s insurance policies won’t cover everything.

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