Each year, locally and across the country, people of all ages are injured by fireworks – both legal and illegal. As a matter of fact, 89% of the fireworks injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms involved fireworks that Federal regulations permit consumers to use. Thus, “No Firework is a Good Firework!” “Leave Fireworks to the Professionals!”
Fire officials from the Washington Metropolitan Region are encouraging people to attend professionally supervised displays on the National Mall in Washington or at a number of local shows at counties, cities, towns, parks and other venues, like Potomac National Park/Pfitzner Stadium, in our region.
Some jurisdictions allow a variety of fireworks regulated by the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission. Legal devices in many of the surrounding jurisdictions include cones, sparklers, sparkling devices and novelties. Illegal fireworks include Roman candles, skyrockets, aerial shells with mortars and firecrackers (Check with your locality). In some local areas, such as Montgomery County (MD), Prince George’s County (MD) and the City of Alexandria (VA), all fireworks are prohibited.
Some interesting statistics:
- U.S. hospital emergency rooms saw an estimated 9,600 people for fireworks-related injuries.
- Over half (54%) of the fireworks injuries were burns, while one-quarter (23%) were contusions and lacerations.
- One quarter (26%) people injured by fireworks were under the age of 15.
- Males accounted for two-thirds (68%) of the injuries.
- The risk of fireworks injury was highest for children ages 5-19 and adults 25-44.
- Sparklers, fountains and novelties alone accounted for 34% of the emergency room fireworks injuries.
The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend one of the many public displays. But if fireworks are legal in your area, and you wish to use them, below are some safety guidelines to follow:
- Always read all warnings and instructions.
- Only approved fireworks may be discharged.
- Do not permit young children to handle or light fireworks. (Sparklers can reach a temperature of 1800 degrees Fahrenheit)
- Prior to igniting fireworks, place them on a flat surface, clear of any combustible material and clear of all buildings.
- Never ignite fireworks while holding them.
- Keep a bucket of water or a hose handy in case of a malfunction or fire.
- Never try to relight fireworks that have not functioned properly.
- The safest way to prevent fireworks-related injuries is to leave the fireworks displays to the professionals.