Sit back and enjoy fireworks show safely

| June 29, 2017 | 0 Comments
Fireworks-related injuries are common around the Fourth of July. (Courtesy photo)

Fireworks-related injuries are common around the Fourth of July. (Courtesy photo)

William Sallette
Tripler Army Medical Center Public Affairs

HONOLULU — Summer is here and with it, barbecues, parades and fireworks displays. However, along with the fun, may be plenty of visits to emergency rooms.

In 2013, eight people died and about 11,400 were injured badly enough to require medical treatment after fireworks-related incidents, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. And while the majority of these incidents were due to amateurs attempting to use professional-grade, homemade or other illegal fireworks or explosives, 40 percent were from legal, less powerful devices.

Fireworks are responsible for thousands of home fires each year. The National Fire Protection Association reports that in 2011, fireworks caused about 1,200 structure fires.

Although there are some fireworks that are legal in certain states, it doesn’t mean they are safe or should be used by just anyone.

Sparklers

Sparklers can be found just about anywhere during the summer, and although they may seem simple and safe, many parents don’t realize they burn at over 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. This is hot enough to melt some metals and can ignite clothing very quickly.

Aerial rockets and Roman candles

According to the National Safety Council, many injuries related to these types of fireworks are due to people having “Rocket Wars,” where they fire them at one another. This can cause a range of serious injuries, including severe burns, loss of eyesight and damage to the brain.

This is such a common injury during holiday seasons when fireworks are present that physicians from the Vanderbilt Eye Institute at Vanderbilt University Medical Center are conducting studies they hope will lead to better education and possibly legislative enhancements on fireworks safety.

Firecrackers

Firecrackers are designed to explode on the ground. However, many consumers do not utilize them correctly or follow the warnings on the label. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, “there were more than 10,500 injuries related to the improper use of firecrackers in 2015. (About) 7,000 of these were during June 20 and July 20.”

If they’re legal

According to the NSC, if fireworks are legal to buy where you live and you choose to use them, be sure to follow the following safety tips:

  • Never allow young children to handle fireworks.
  • Older children should use them only under close adult supervision.
  • Anyone using fireworks or standing nearby should wear protective eyewear.
  • Never light them indoors.
  • Only use them away from people, houses and flammable material.
  • Only light one device at a time and maintain a safe distance after lighting.
  • Never ignite devices in a container.
  • Do not try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks.
  • Soak unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding.
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don’t go off or in case of fire.

“Everyone wants to enjoy their summer and take advantage of the opportunities the summer provides,” said Scott Knowles, Tripler Army Medical Center’s Safety and Occupational Health manager. “However, no one wants to end up a statistic.

“Please think about being safe in everything you do this summer, especially when dealing with fireworks,” he added. “Pull out a blanket at the beach or park, enjoy the show and leave the fireworks to the professionals.”

Fireworks Prohibition
Fireworks are prohibited on all U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii installations, per U.S. Army Hawaii Regulation 1, Standards and Discipline.

Honolulu law prohibits the possession, sale and use of fireworks on the island, with few permitted exceptions. The ban includes sparklers, fountains, snakes, cones, torches, ground spinners, whislets and smoke devices.

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