Fireworks have been linked with Independence Day ever since the very first one. John Adams composed a letter on July 3, 1776, saying future generations should celebrate the event with illuminations from one end of this continent to the other, and a year later Philadelphians staged a display that began and concluded with 13 rockets, one for each of the original colonies.
Since then, the nation’s fireworks industry has grown to about to a billion dollar industry just in the United States alone and has nearly double what it was a decade earlier.
Fireworks look beautiful and entertaining however they can also be very dangerous. As you are out visiting one of those roadside tents, be sure to extinguish your cigarette before entering to shop and if you see somebody smoking, leave. These areas are mini-ammunition storage bunkers. Only one spark can cause the entire area to light up like a roman candle, such as it did at this fireworks tent in Port Richey, FL. The only good thing to come from this was that the U.S. Flag survived.
The internet is littered with stories of people losing fingers and even being decapitated from many of these explosive devices. But the most ripping and heart-wrenching story is that of a child that is killed standing right between his father’s legs after a fireworks display overturns.
Now that I have your attention here are some helpful safety rules to follow this July 4th holiday.
• Follow all of the directions on the fireworks’ packaging.
• Supervise children and adolescents while lighting fireworks.
• Keep water and fire extinguishers nearby when lighting fireworks.
• Don’t store fireworks in bulk (in case they explode before you want them to), and set them off one at a time.
• Buy fireworks only from a licensed store or stands — not from a seller’s home or car.
• Never use homemade fireworks. Ever.
• Light fireworks in a clear area that’s free of flammable materials like dried leaves or grass.
• If your yard is bone dry from a drought you may want to water your grass earlier in the day before lighting fireworks.
• If a firework doesn’t go off, don’t try to relight it. Instead, submerge it in water later.
• A sparkler burns at a temperature over 15 times the boiling point of water. Three sparklers burning together generate the same heat as a blowtorch. Remember sparklers alone cause more injuries than any other type of firework.
• Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
• Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.
• Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
• Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
• Never carry fireworks in a pocket.
• After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
• Store fireworks in a closed container. Plastic tubs with lids are perfect for keeping fireworks dry.
• When storing fireworks place away from other materials that could catch fire easily. When storing fireworks, keep exits clear, away from doorways so if a fire does start exits are open and accessible.
• Store fireworks in a secure room or building. You should be able to lock the building or room to prevent children or unwanted intruders from getting to the fireworks.
Be safe this 4th of July. A celebration is not supposed to be cause for being sorry.
Keven Moore is director of Risk Management Services for Roeding Insurance (www.roedinginsurance.com). He has a bachelor’s degree from University of Kentucky, a master’s from Eastern Kentucky University and 25-plus years of experience in the safety and insurance profession. He lives in Lexington with his family and works out of both the Lexington and Northern Kentucky offices. Keven can be reached at email@example.com.