It’s that time of year when Americans across the country gather to celebrate the 4th of July holiday with family, friends, and fireworks.
A new report by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission finds a significant upward trend in fireworks-related injuries and deaths. Between 2006 and 2021, injuries from fireworks increased by 25% in the United States, according to CPSC estimates.
In 2021, at least nine people died and an estimated 11,500 were injured in incidents involving fireworks.
“It is imperative that consumers know the risks associated with the use of fireworks, in order to prevent injuries and tragedies,” said CPSC Chairman Alex Hoehn-Saric. “The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to watch professional screens.”
Wherever you’re celebrating, here are some fireworks safety tips and information on how to keep your 4th of July celebrations disaster-free.
How can I protect myself?
According to National Security Council, fireworks should be used away from people, homes and flammable materials, and never ignited in a container or indoors. When using fireworks, the advice advises to light one device at a time and keep a safe distance thereafter.
Lighted fireworks must not be held by anyone or pointed or thrown at another person. If the firework malfunctions, do not attempt to light it again.
For those who light fireworks, the NSC recommends keeping a bucket of water nearby to completely extinguish fireworks and to soak used fireworks in water before disposal.
What about candles?
Sparklers account for more than a third of fireworks-related emergency room visits and can burn up to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Instead, the association recommends using glow sticks, silly string, or noisemakers.
Bay Area Officials recently notified that a sparkler in the dry grass could take only 30 to 60 seconds to ignite into an inferno that is no longer controllable by a garden hose.
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Where are fireworks legal?
While Massachusetts is the only state where all consumer fireworks are banned, you can still catch a professional show in the Bay State, according to Reader’s Digest. Connecticut, Illinois and New Jersey have strict fireworks laws, only allowing snakes, sparklers, and party-poppers. California has a patchwork of laws, with certain fireworks labeled “safe and healthy” permitted in some parts of the state while illegal in others.
AAA predicts 47 million people will travel 50 miles or more from home this holiday weekend.
Do fireworks cause fires?
According to the National Safety Council, fireworks start an average of 18,500 fires each year.
Amid persistent drought conditions in parts of the western and northwestern United States, some cities are canceling fireworks shows and banning residents from releasing them due to wildfires.
A popular fireworks display in the northern San Joaquin Valley that in pre-pandemic times brought tens of thousands to Lake Don Pedro, California, has also been canceled due to security concerns. drought. Like many in northern Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina. Still, fire officials in some cities worry that cancellations of community displays could prompt some people to step up their use of consumer-grade fireworks.
“We are generally concerned about exposure from sparks and fire to houses and dry brush,” said Phoenix Fire spokesperson Capt. Evan Gammage. “We get so many calls at this time of year.”