Commentary

July 3, 2014

Independence Day Fireworks Safety

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Commentary by Staff Sgt. Candice C. Page
Headquarters Air Combat Command
(U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christina D. Ponte)
According to National Fire Prevention Association in 2011, almost 18,000 fires were caused by fireworks. Sparklers cause 16 percent of fireworks injuries.

LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. — Independence Day provides Americans an opportunity to celebrate a very important part of our country’s rich history. Celebrating this holiday with fireworks is a common tradition; however, not incorporating safety may turn the festivities into an agonizing memory when Airmen or their families are injured while using fireworks.

Few people understand the dangers associated with fireworks, if not handled properly they can cause devastating burns, eye injuries and fires. According to National Fire Prevention Association in 2012, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 8,700 people for fireworks related injuries; 55 percent of the 2012 emergency room fireworks-related injuries were to the extremities and 31 percent were to the head. On Independence Day in a typical year, far more U.S. fires are reported than on any other day, and fireworks account for two out of five of those fires, more than any other cause of fires.

Planning to use fireworks during the upcoming holiday, follow these safety tips from the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Fire Prevention Association to prevent injuries and mishaps.

Firework Safety:

  • Never disassemble or try to make your own fireworks.
  • Always purchase fireworks from a reliable source.
  • Read all warning labels and follow directions on each firework device and understand the product performance.
  • Don’t point sparklers, or fireworks at yourself or others.
  • Don’t light multiple devices at the same time.
  • Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
  • Never allow young children to handle fireworks, an adult should supervise all firework activities.
  • Keep Pets out of the area.
  • Comply with local laws when using fireworks off- base.
  • Also keep a water hose or buckets of water nearby to put out fires. Always keep a portable fire extinguisher close by.
  • Only light fireworks on the ground and in areas that are dry and fire resistant.

Protect Your Body:

  •  Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. · Do not consume alcohol beverages while lighting fireworks, you will increase the possibility of misuse and injury to yourself and others near you.
  • Backup to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
  • Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
  • After fireworks complete their burning douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.
  • Use good common sense.
  • You only have one set of hands and eyes. Keep them safe!

For information on state and city firework laws, check with local law enforcement agencies or fire departments for guidance.




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(U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Chris Massey)

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