Celebrating The Fourth With A Bang

During the weeks before and after the 4th of July, many a kid will be injured playing with fireworks. Wait a minute . . . . In 2010, most of the injuries in South Carolina were to adults: 39 percent were aged 18 to 34; 34 percent were 35 to 64; 4 percent were 65 or older; and only 23 percent were under 18.

Those figures come from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. They also report that in 2010 in our state there were 182 non-fatal injuries related to fireworks, including serious burns, contusions and other trauma; 5 of those people had to be admitted into the hospital.

What this tells us is that everyone, of every age, needs to be aware of and observant of safety rules when using fireworks.

On the national level, during the month around the 4th of July holiday, an average of 200 people every day go to the emergency room with fireworks-related injuries. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that in 2011 four consumers were killed by illegal devices; one incident resulted in decapitation.

Playing with fireworks is dangerous, folks! That’s why so many states limit the types of fireworks which can be legally sold and ignited. In the state of South Carolina, it is legal to sell almost all types of fireworks. Only explosives like M-80s and Cherry Bombs are banned. These two have been outlawed by federal law since 1966. Firecrackers sold in the United States legally can have a maximum of 50 mg of explosive.

It may seem that you see a fireworks stand on every street corner about this time of year. Fireworks stands have to be approved by the state and post permits on the inside and the outside of the stand. Look for them! Anyone who tries to sell you fireworks from a vehicle or a tent is breaking the law. Report them! Illegal fireworks can be seized by local law enforcement.

If you and your neighbors are going to celebrate with fireworks, please follow these common sense safety rules from The National Council on Fireworks Safety:
* You really should never allow your children to play with fireworks. Even sparklers can be dangerous – they can reach 1800* Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to melt gold! If you decide to give the kids sparklers, make sure they keep them away from the face, clothing and hair.
* Buy only legal fireworks (legal fireworks have a label with the manufacturer’s name and directions; illegal ones are unlabeled), and store them in a cool, dry place. Illegal fireworks usually go by the names M-80, M100, blockbuster, or quarterpounder.
* Never try to make your own fireworks.
* Always use fireworks outside and have a bucket of water and a hose nearby in case of accidents.
* Steer clear of others — fireworks have been known to backfire or shoot off in the wrong direction. Never throw or point fireworks at someone, even in jest.
* Don’t hold fireworks in your hand or have any part of your body over them while lighting. Wear some sort of eye protection, and avoid carrying fireworks in your pocket — the friction could set them off.
* Point fireworks away from homes, and keep away from brush and leaves and flammable substances. The National Fire Protection Association estimates that local fire departments respond to more than 50,000 fires caused by fireworks each year.
* Light one firework at a time (not in glass or metal containers), and never, ever relight a dud.
* Don’t allow kids to pick up pieces of fireworks after an event. Some may still be ignited and can explode at any time.
* Soak all fireworks in a bucket of water before throwing them in the trash can.

If someone in your party is injured by fireworks, immediately go to a doctor or hospital. If the injury is to an eye, don’t allow the person to touch or rub it; nor should you flush it with water or attempt to put any ointment on it. If the person has been burned, remove clothing from the burned area and run cool, not cold, water over the burn, but do not use ice. Call your doctor immediately.

The holiday commemorating our country’s independence is one worthy of celebrating with a bang – but the rockets’ red glare and the bombs bursting in air should be handled only by professional pyrotechnicians.

Have a great holiday!