Firework Safety for Adults and Kids
Each July Fourth, thousands of people, most often children and teens, are injured while using consumer fireworks.
Everyone enjoys fireworks, especially in the festive Fourth of July season. But consumers need to be careful about where they buy their fireworks. The National Council on Fireworks Safety (NCFS) recommends that you only buy consumer fireworks from a licensed fireworks store, tent or stand. Never buy fireworks from an individual’s house or from someone on the street. Such devices are likely illegal explosives or professional 1.3G fireworks that can seriously injure you.
Consumer fireworks, regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, are packaged in bright colors and have safety warnings on the package. The packaging sets forth the country of origin, which is normally China. Typical consumer fireworks include fountains, cones, sparklers, firecrackers, rockets and multi-tube aerial devices.
Illegal explosives are often unpackaged and wrapped in brown paper. They are unlikely to have any safety warnings or place of manufacture. Many of them are handmade in basements or illicit factories without any quality control. They go by names such as M-80, Quarter Stick or Cherry Bombs. If someone approaches you to sell one of these illegal explosives, politely decline and call your local police department.
In addition to safety in using fireworks, the cost of unintended fires created by illegal fireworks comes both in physical injuries and property damage.
If not handled properly, fireworks can cause burn and eye injuries in kids and adults. The best way to protect your family is not to use any fireworks at home. Attend public fireworks displays, and leave the lighting to the professionals.
Size of the Fireworks-Related Fire Problem
- In 2011, fireworks caused an estimated 17,800 reported fires, including 1,200 structure fires, 400 vehicle fires, and 16,300 outside and other fires.
- These fires resulted in an estimated 40 civilian injuries and $32 million in direct property damage, with no reported fire deaths.
- On Independence Day in a typical year, fireworks account for two out of five of all reported fires, more than any other cause of fire.
- The risk of fireworks injury was highest for young people ages 0-4, followed by children 10-14
For those that want to use fireworks on the 4th of July or other holidays, consumer fireworks, when used in accordance with the instructions and safety warnings, can be safe. For a full list of consumer fireworks safety tips and a safety video, please visit www.FireworksSafety.org.
Forty-seven of the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia allow legal “consumer” fireworks for the Fourth of July. The definition of consumer fireworks varies from state to state, but can include everything from cone fountains to roman candles to multiple tube “cake” devices to sparklers. Before using fireworks, find out what’s legal in your state by checking the state law summary for your state by clicking here.
If your state does allow fireworks, remember that even legal fireworks can cause injury if they’re not used properly. Consider the following tips, provided by The American Pyrotechnics Association, when planning your Independence Day fireworks fun:
- Store fireworks in a cool, dry place
- Always read and follow the directions on the label
- Always have an adult present when handling fireworks
- Never give fireworks to young children, even sparklers!
- Use fireworks outdoors in a safe, non-wooden area
- Having a working garden hose or bucket of water handy
- Keep everyone a safe distance away from fireworks
- Light only one firework at a time
- Never re-ignite a firework that doesn’t light the first time or one that has finished its display
- Never carry fireworks in your pocket
- Don’t throw fireworks at another person
- Keep pets indoors and away from fireworks
- Never shoot fireworks in metal or glass containers
- Keep spectators at a safe distance
- Always wear safety glasses when igniting fireworks
We hope you enjoy the 4th of July and stay safe.