It's the time of year for one of the most American of traditions: Fireworks.
When I was growing up, my father liked to put on a colorful display of fireworks in our side yard every year. That was the spot because it was wide open, free of any close trees or power lines, and there was a hose nearby. We would light up our little piece of the sky with what we thought were the most beautiful fireworks outside of the international freedom celebration over the Detroit River.
Nowadays, the fireworks many people can purchase — depending on state laws — are much bigger and more powerful than they were when I was a kid.
No matter what size your fireworks display is, fireworks can be hazardous if proper care is not taken. All fireworks have risk. In fact, there were an estimated 9,100 fireworks-related, emergency department-treated injuries in 2018, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Of those, 62 percent occurred between June 22 and July 22.
Here are nine safety tips from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to keep in mind if you'll be setting off fireworks at home:
- Make sure consumer fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.
- Never use or make professional-grade fireworks.
- Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks, including sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. This is hot enough to melt some metals. For children under 5 years of age, sparklers accounted for more than half of the total estimated fireworks injuries.
- Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Move to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
- Never point or throw fireworks at another person or occupied area.
- Light fireworks one at a time, then move away from them quickly.
- Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy, in case of fire or other mishaps.
- Never try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them with water and throw them away.
- After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding the device, to prevent a trash fire.
We hope with a little care and caution, your family has a safe and happy Independence Day holiday!
For more information, visit the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's fireworks safety education center.
Carol Azarovitz is the publisher of Macaroni Kid Bloomfield, Mich.