The importance of observing safety around fireworks during the 4th of July is more important than ever as deaths from fireworks increased dramatically during the pandemic.
In 2020, the number of deaths related to fireworks spiked by 50% compared to 2019, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The organization recorded 18 deaths in 2020 compared to 12 in 2019. Many of these deaths also involved the use of alcohol or drugs prior to the incident.
Along with the fatalities, over 15,500 people received emergency treatment at hospitals in 2020 compared to only 10,000 in 2019. According to the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, 230 people on average visit the emergency room per day with firework-related injuries around Independence Day.
According to the National Safety Council, a leading non-profit safety advocate, fireworks start around 18,500 fires per year on average.
“These tragic deaths and injuries are reminders of just how dangerous fireworks can be . . . Consumers should enjoy professional fireworks displays from a distance, and be extra vigilant when using consumer-type fireworks,” said CPSC action chairperson Robert Adler.
For at-home use, many deaths and injuries are easy to prevent by taking a few simple steps. First, read the directions on the product. Closely supervise anyone, especially children, using fireworks or sparklers.
Second, keep a safe distance away, at least 500 feet, from the fireworks once they are lit, and light them one at a time. Safety barriers around the lit fireworks might also be a good idea.
Never place any body parts over a lit firework or light the fireworks in someone’s hand or inside. Do not relight them, throw them at anyone, or use alcohol or drugs when lighting fireworks and never light them inside.
Third, after the fireworks are lit douse them in water, even before throwing them away. Also, approach them with caution as they could be hot or potentially spark again. In case of a fire, keep water around to douse out any flame.
Some of these consumer fireworks are also unregulated or illegal and are not safe for use. Before purchasing, make sure that the fireworks are legal and regulated.