An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

NEWS | June 30, 2008

Celebrate with fireworks safely

By Staff Sgt. John Culp 437th Airlift Wing Safety

The American summer is filled with parades, cookouts and fireworks. Let's enjoy the season, especially our nation's birthday on the Fourth of July safely.

Each year, fireworks turn a joyful celebration into a painful memory when children and adults are injured while using them. Although legal consumer fireworks comply with safety regulations, all fireworks are classified as hazardous substances under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act and can cause injury.

Illegal firecracker-type devices and professional display fireworks should never be used or handled by consumers or children due to the serious injuries and death that can and do occur from such use or handling.

Each year, thousands of people are treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries associated with fireworks. More than half the injuries are burns and most of the injuries involved the hands, eyes and head. Nearly half of all victims are under 15 years of age.

Fireworks are not toys and should be used only with extreme caution. Older children should be closely supervised, and younger children should not be allowed to play with fireworks at all (this includes sparklers).

The best thing for families to do is not to use any fireworks at home ... period. Attend public fireworks displays, and leave the lighting to the professionals. If there is still a desire to use them, be sure to check with local law enforcement first to see if they're legal.

When using fireworks, keep these safety tips in mind:

· Do not allow young children to play with fireworks under any circumstances. Sparklers, considered by many the ideal "safe" firework for the young, burn at very high temperatures and can easily ignite clothing. Children cannot understand the danger involved and cannot act appropriately in case of emergency.
· Older children should only be permitted to use fireworks under close adult supervision. Do not allow any running or horseplay.
· Light fireworks outdoors in a clear area away from houses, dry leaves or grass and flammable materials.
· Keep a bucket of water nearby for emergencies and for pouring on fireworks that don't go off.
· Do not try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Douse and soak them with water and throw them away.
· Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.
· Never ignite fireworks in a container, especially a glass or metal container. Don't experiment with homemade fireworks.
· Keep unused fireworks away from firing areas.
· Store fireworks in a dry, cool place. Check instructions for special storage directions.
· Observe local laws.
· Never have any part of the body directly over a firework while lighting.

The Fourth of July can be a fun time with great memories when everyone knows and understands firework safety.