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5 useful tips to keep your family safe this Fourth of July

Fireworks have long been a part of Fourth of July celebrations. While it is best to leave fireworks shows to the professionals, neighborhoods across the nation will be setting off fireworks in backyards and streets on Independence Day and the days leading up to and after the Fourth of July this summer. That’s why it’s so important to take Fourth of July safety into account. According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, an average of 180 people make a visit to hospital emergency rooms in the days and weeks surrounding the July 4 holiday. Over 50 percent of the reported fireworks injuries are burns with 15 percent impacting eyes. In 2019, more than 7,000 people took a trip to the hospital because of fireworks from June 21 through July 21. People under the age of 20 typically account for half of firework-related injuries. So, how can you keep your family safe this Independence Day?

Woman lighting a sparkler on Fourth of July
Kristen Prahl/Shutterstock

Fourth of July safety

Watch a professional display

Most communities across the nation hold professional fireworks either on July 4 or in the days leading up to the Independence Day holiday. The safest option for families is to head to a fireworks show in your area. It’s a fun, family-friendly, and safe way to cap off a Fourth of July celebration.

Firework safety tips

Know local firework laws

If you must purchase fireworks, know the law where you live. Forty-six out of 50 states in the US allow consumers to purchase fireworks in some form. Only Massachusetts considers consumer fireworks illegal and allows only fireworks shows put on by professionals. Ohio, Vermont and Illinois have extremely strict firework laws and only allow the sale of certain novelty fireworks. Others have banned aerial fireworks. Before you purchase fireworks, it’s important to know what fireworks are allowed in your state to avoid issues with the police.

Leave fireworks to the adults

If you’re capping off your Fourth of July celebration with a backyard fireworks display, do not allow children, tweens or teens to play with or ignite fireworks. Sparklers may be pretty, but this novelty firework runs hot. Sparklers temps can be as high as 1200 plus degrees Fahrenheit. A sparkler gets hot enough to melt some metals, which means it’s not something kids should have their hands on.

Avoid knockoff fireworks

Fireworks are dangerous enough in the hand of novices, and purchasing fireworks not made by a reputable manufacturer is a recipe for disaster. Be aware of the types of fireworks you’re purchasing. It’s a good idea to do a bit of googling before buying fireworks to check the quality. Never buy fireworks where the packaging is damaged, and don’t purchase fireworks covered in brown paper bags. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission warns this is a telltale sign the fireworks were constructed for professional displays and are a major hazard for small backyard use.

Don’t re-light a firework

Fireworks fizzle. Even fireworks in professional displays sometimes don’t go off. Never attempt to pick up a firework that did not ignite or go off properly, and do not attempt to re-light a defunct firework. Doing so could end up in a trip to the emergency room or worse.

Have water nearby

If you’re having a backyard fireworks show or using fireworks, having a garden hose or a large bucket of water is a must-do. Spent fireworks should be wet with water when they have fizzled out. Hot fireworks should not be thrown into the trash. Doing so could potentially cause a fire. Lots of things can go wrong when setting off a firework, and an unexpected fire is one of them. Having a garden hose close at hand can prevent a small fire from getting out of hand while waiting for the fire department. Remember, all professional firework displays have the local fire department close at hand if needed.

Fourth of July fireworks watched by a girl
Shannon Shepard/Shutterstock

Other firework safety tips

A lot can go wrong when professionals are setting off fireworks, even if last year there weren’t any issues and everyone’s fingers stayed intact. Keep these extra Fourth of July safety tips in mind to prevent a disastrous Independence Day.

  • Watch fireworks from a safe distance
  • Never aim fireworks at people
  • Don’t stand over a firework while lighting it. Hold it away from you.
  • Light fireworks one at a time
  • Don’t carry a firework inside a pocket
  • Don’t attempt to light a firework in a bucket or glass jar

The Fourth of July is super fun, and fireworks are an amazing way to end an Independence Day celebration. As cool as fireworks are, the devices are also extremely dangerous and are the reason for injuries and tragedies every summer. It’s best to leave a fireworks display to the pros, but if you are going to set off fireworks this Fourth of July, it’s important to be safe. Know the firework laws in your state before buying any fireworks. Keep these firework safety tips in mind to ensure everyone has an enjoyable Fourth of July without any injuries or worse.

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Dawn Miller
Dawn Miller began her professional life as an elementary school teacher before returning to her first love, writing. In…
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