Editorial: Be careful when using fireworks

It is recorded that consumers are opposed to Pennsylvania law that legalizes the purchase of aerial fireworks, but not only on July 4th, but also because many people bring color and noise to summer celebrations. We realize that we enjoy using them.

There is no end to the availability of more powerful fireworks on the shelves of Pennsylvania stores, or the desire of people to use them. But they should take steps to do so in a safe and compassionate way.

This is not trivial. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has published a report showing that the number of fireworks-related injuries has increased significantly over the last 15 years. The CPSC estimates that between 2006 and 2021, fireworks injuries increased by 25% in the United States.

In 2021, at least nine people were killed in such injuries, and an estimated 11,500 people went to the emergency room last year for fireworks injuries. Of the nine deaths, six were associated with fireworks misuse, one was associated with mortar firing dysfunction, and two were associated with an unknown situation.

According to the CPSC, the number of serious injuries in 2021 has decreased from the 15,600 people experienced in 2020, when many public fireworks festivals were canceled in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. But that number remains disturbingly high. Imagine a large number of injuries during the month from mid-June to mid-July. Between June 18 and July 18, last year, an estimated 8,500 fireworks-related injuries (or 74% of the estimated total number of fireworks-related injuries in 2021) occurred.

Young adults aged 20 to 24 years had the highest estimated rate of fireworks-related injuries treated in the emergency department in 2021, according to CPSC reports.

An estimated 1,500 people were injured by the firecracker-related emergency department, and 1,100 people were injured by sparklers, reminding us that even the mildest types of fireworks are dangerous. The parts of the body most frequently injured by fireworks were the hands and fingers (31% of the estimated injured) and the head, face and ears (estimated 21%). Approximately 32% of fireworks-related injuries treated in the emergency department in 2021 were due to burns.

I hope the above stats encourage people to check professional displays instead of launching fireworks, but many will not be discouraged. With that in mind, here are some CPSC safety tips for using fireworks.

• Do not allow your baby to play with or ignite fireworks, including sparklers. Sparklers burn at a temperature of about 2,000 degrees — high enough to melt some metals.

• Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other accidents.

• Lighten the fireworks one at a time, then quickly move them away from the fireworks device.

• Do not reignite or dispose of failed fireworks. Soak them in water and throw them away.

• When igniting the fuse, do not place any part of your body directly above the fireworks device. Move to a safe distance as soon as you light the fireworks.

• Do not point or throw fireworks (including sparklers) at others.

• When the fireworks have finished burning, pour plenty of water from a bucket or hose into the used device to prevent the trash from catching fire and discard the device.

• Make sure fireworks are legal in your area and only buy and launch fireworks labeled for consumers (not professionals).

• Never use fireworks that are damaged by alcohol or narcotics.

Here are some other tips related to caring for your neighbors.

• Do not light noisy fireworks late at night or for long periods of time. People need to sleep. Keep in mind that loud fireworks can be especially angry with the youngest and oldest of us, and military veterans. It’s also a problem for families with pets, especially dogs.

• Do not launch fireworks every night. Many are willing to accept the noise of the night of July 4th and the night before or after it. But if it lasts for a few weeks, it’s more than many of us can tolerate.

Let us all have a fun and safe holiday celebration.


Editorial: Be careful when using fireworks

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