With the Fourth of July weekend approaching, people all over the United States are planning gatherings, cookouts and – an all time favorite to most – fireworks. Although the Fourth brings with it celebrations in many forms, it also brings with it risks. Fireworks are explosives and although they have become synonymous with Independence Day and New Years celebrations, it is important to remain cautious when setting fireworks off.
This time of year “sparks” the sale of fireworks. Unfortunately, fireworks can cause accidental fires, damage and even severe injuries. In Florida, fireworks that emit a loud bang and/or leave the ground are illegal without a permit from the State Fire Marshal’s Office. Smaller devices such as sparklers and other novelty items can be legally purchased to add to your celebration.
Each day around the Fourth of July, an average of 240 people go to the emergency room with firework-related injuries. The most common injuries associated with fireworks are to the hands, fingers, head, face, ears and eyes. In 2012, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 8,700 people suffering from firework related injuries. Of those firework related injuries 55% involved the patient’s extremities and 31% involved injuries to their heads. Most often victims of firework injuries are people between the ages of 15-24, followed by children under 10.
The Lake County Public Safety Department and other local community and government groups urges residents to take proper precautions as they celebrate this Independence Day. In order to avoid injuries and firework-related, deaths adults should always supervise the use of fireworks regardless of how small or large the device is. It is important to read and follow directions and warnings on the labels and boxes. Even small devices like sparklers that many associate to children on holidays such as this one can be dangerous if not properly used and children are not supervised.
Those participating in the use of fireworks should keep a fire extinguisher, bucket of water and/or a hose nearby to put out sparks and smoldering embers that can remain after use of fireworks and other novelty items. Many injuries associated with fireworks can be avoided by being aware of the surroundings, both environmental and the people, in the immediate area. Just because a firework has been set off does not mean it can no long do damage. So it is best to douse the firework and remaining debris with water before placing it in the trash. And, never attempt to relight fireworks.
For those who want to enjoy fireworks without having to set them off at home, consider attending a local event. There will be events all over the Orlando area for families to celebrate this Independence Day and enjoy fireworks at city parks and lakefronts. Uptown Altamonte is hosting Red Hot and Boom, there will be Fireworks at the Fountain in Downtown Orlando and Winter Springs will be holding Celebration of Freedom. Check online and in local papers for events near you.
For additional information on firework safety in preparation for your Independence Day celebrations please visit The National Council on Fireworks Safety online, Kids Health, and/or call your local Public Safety Department for information more specific to your area. Please be safe this Fourth of July however you chose to celebrate!