The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control has issued its annual Independence Day warning to residents about the potential dangers of fireworks.
According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, more than 11,000 people were treated in American emergency rooms for injuries related to fireworks in the 2016 calendar year (the most recent statistics available). Kids younger than 15 accounted for 31 percent of those injuries.
Nearly 72 people die each year on average due to fireworks-related injuries, the agency said.
“They can be a lot of fun, but they can also be very dangerous and we really want to prevent as many injuries, and especially hospitalizations, or lifelong injuries due to fireworks,” DHEC Injury and Violence Prevention program coordinator Neal Martin said.
Even fireworks that are marketed for kids, such as sparklers, firecrackers or bottle rockets, can be dangerous. In 2016, 900 people were injured by sparklers and 400 were injured by bottle rockets, according to the CDC. About 1,300 people were treated at the emergency room for injuries caused by firecrackers. Martin warned sparklers can reach 2,000 degrees at their hottest point.
“Safety is paramount when it comes to fireworks,” Columbia Public Fire Education Officer Bengie Leverett said. “One of the number-one things I would recommend–people like to have children around, have a parent there.”
The best way to prevent fireworks injuries is to leave fireworks displays to trained professionals. However, if you still want to light up fireworks at home, DHEC and the Columbia Fire Department offer these safety suggestions:
• Observe local laws. If you’re unsure whether it is legal to use fireworks, check with local officials.
• Monitor local weather conditions. Dry weather can make it easier for fireworks to start a fire.
• Store fireworks in a cool, dry place.
• Always read and follow directions on each firework.
• Only use fireworks outdoors, away from homes, dry grass, and trees.
• Always have an adult present when shooting fireworks.
• Ensure everyone is out of range before lighting fireworks.
• Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire
• Light fireworks one at a time, and keep a safe distance.
• After fireworks complete their burning, douse them with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
• Point or throw fireworks at another person.
• Re-ignite malfunctioning fireworks.
• Experiment or attempt to make your own fireworks.
• Give fireworks to small children.
• Carry fireworks in your pocket.
Fireworks also are dangerous for pets, livestock and wildlife.
- Pets should be kept safely inside the house to avoid additional stress and the possibility of lost pets (who escape fencing to run from fireworks).
- Dogs who are fearful of fireworks should be isolated in rooms that provide the most soundproofing from the loud noises of fireworks going off. You can also play the radio to further muffle the noises.
- Make sure that your pets have proper, current, visible identification in case they escape during the fireworks.
- Never take your pets to firework shows.