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Take Precautions When Lighting Fireworks

Posted: June 27, 2015

Many people will be celebrating the fourth of July with food, fun and sometimes fireworks. Fireworks can be dangerous so it’s best to leave fireworks displays to trained professionals...

     Fireworks-related injuries usually involve the hands, the fingers, the eyes and the head. Burns are the most common injuries, followed by actual explosions causing bruises and lacerations. There are also a number of eye injuries, blindness being one of the more serious results.
     Sparklers are one of the most hazardous types of fireworks. They are almost hot enough to melt gold, so burnt fingers or hands are common occurrences. There is also the potential for a young child to wave a sparkler around and stick it in the eye of another child or poke themselves.

     If you do chose to light fireworks, below are some safety tips from K-State Research and Extension:

  • Parents sometimes overestimate their children's ability to use fireworks. Make sure there is always adult supervision when children are lighting fireworks.
  • If you plan to allow children to hold sparklers, make certain it is on a driveway or pavement. Do not allow them to run with sparklers. Sparklers burn at about 2,000 degrees F. -  hot enough to melt some metals. Sparklers could ignite a child’s hair or clothing, or the child could stumble and burn or puncture the skin or an eye.
  • Read the directions and warning labels when you're purchasing the fireworks, and also read the instructions when you start lighting the fireworks. If a device is not marked with the contents, directions and a warning label, do not light it.
  • Buy fireworks that are appropriate for the age of the child. For younger children you may want to start out with "worms" and "smoke bombs." Read the label and use common sense.
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place according to their specific storage instructions.
  • Never ignite fireworks in a container -- especially glass or metal.
  • Understand fireworks fuses. Many people believe that fuses burn for a long time, but in truth, many explode three to six seconds after being lighted.
  • Do NOT try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them in water and throw them away.
  • Be sure onlookers are a safe distance away before lighting fireworks.
  • Good locations to light fireworks are large, flat surfaces away from homes or buildings. Never light fireworks indoors or near dry grass, and always have a bucket of water and/or a fire extinguisher nearby.

      Setting off fireworks is risky business. Every precaution must be taken to avoid injury and accidents. The best defense against kids suffering severe eye injuries and burns is to not let kids play with any fireworks.
    
Karen Thomas is a family and consumer science educator for Penn State Extension in Lackawanna County.