Fireworks are a blast when used safely and synonymous with Independence Day celebrations, but they can also cause devastating burns, injuries, fires and even death. The Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department (MDFR) wants to remind the public there are certain precautions that should be taken when handling fireworks this 4th of July.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), an estimated 11,100 fireworks-related injuries were treated in emergency rooms across the United States in 2016. Parents are reminded to ensure the safety of their children by closely supervising personal fireworks use, and by purchasing only legal fireworks from approved vendors. It’s important for parents to be present when sparklers and fireworks are ignited, and to ensure that the materials are lit in an open area away from homes, vehicles, trees and any combustibles. Young children should not be allowed to handle sparklers and fireworks as they can cause severe burns and eye injuries. Children younger than 5 had the second highest rate of injury behind young adults ages 20 to 24.
Additionally, fireworks start an average of 18,500 fires per year, including 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires, and 16,900 outside and other fires. These fires caused an average of three deaths, 40 civilian injuries, and an average of $43 million in direct property damage.
Here are some ways to enjoy fireworks safely:
- Always buy fireworks from approved vendors: Never buy used or illegal fireworks, like those that explode or fly because they are very dangerous. Always read and follow manufacturer’s instructions.
- Never allow small children to ignite or play with fireworks: A responsible adult should supervise fireworks at all times.
- Light fireworks in a combustible-free area such as a driveway or other paved surface: Keep fireworks at least 25 feet away from grassy and vegetated areas. Avoid wood or dry materials that can easily catch on fire and never ignite fireworks in a metal or glass containers.
- Never attempt to relight or alter malfunctioning fireworks: To prevent a trash fire, dispose of used fireworks properly by soaking them in water before throwing them in the trash.
- Always keep water nearby: A garden hose, bucket of water or fire extinguisher must always be within reach in case of emergency.
- Light one firework at a time, and move away quickly: Never point or throw fireworks at people or animals. Remain a safe distance away from the devices and wear safety glasses.
- Children under the age of 10 should be supervised when handling sparklers: Sparklers can burn up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature is strong enough to melt some metals. Just imagine what this can do to children’s eyes and hands.
- STOP, DROP and ROLL: If clothes catch fire, remember to STOP, DROP onto the ground, cover your face, and ROLL over and over until the fire goes out.
- Leave it to the professionals: The safest way to enjoy fireworks is at a public fireworks display that is put on by trained professionals. These fireworks are usually also free of charge and way more impressive than anything you can buy on a street corner.
- Fireworks and alcohol do not mix: Adults consuming alcohol while discharging fireworks are a significant contributor to fireworks mishaps and are likelier to suffer injury.
- In case of a fire or burn emergency: Call 9-1-1 immediately.
Visit our website for additional fireworks safety tips.
The Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department is dedicated to promoting and enhancing fire safety through education and code enforcement.