The 4th of July is the day when a lot of American children spend the evening writing their names with sparklers and setting off worm pellets (remember those?). You might also go to a professional firework display in your community, or might gather around to watch the neighbors light their own. Where we live, close to the water, it’s common to see colorful displays going off from boats on the river. Fireworks are exciting, but they can also be hazardous; every year, kids (and adults) get burned, sometimes seriously, by fireworks. As long as the weather cooperates we will be doing our usual fireworks extravaganza. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind:
- Follow local laws and recommendations. If it’s illegal to set off fireworks in your area, then don’t do it. Even if they are legal, pay close attention to wildfire warnings and the weather. Lighting fireworks on a windy, dry day can have lasting repercussions for a large area.
- Teach your kids that fireworks aren’t toys. The National Council on Fireworks Safety says that only kids over the age of 12 should use sparklers. If you do choose to let your child use them, keep a very close eye on him, and make sure that his hair and clothing are kept safely away from the sparks.
- Keep water nearby. Fill a bucket with water to soak used fireworks. This also comes in handy if a small grass fire starts; douse the flames immediately.
- Deal with duds safely. If a firecracker doesn’t go off, let it sit for at least 20 minutes. At that point, soak it in a bucket of water. To be safe, wet it with a hose before you try to pick it up. Keep kids away from duds, as well as from used fireworks; cleaning them up is an adults-only activity.
- Use common sense. Follow the directions on the fireworks, and make sure you’re far enough from a house as well as any spectators. Also, don’t drink and shoot: if you’re not fit to drive a car, you’re certainly not fit enough to set off fireworks!
- Consider attending a professional display instead. The pros know how to keep things safe for everyone, and their displays are usually more spectacular than anything you can try to replicate at home. If you’re not confident of your ability to safely handle fireworks, if they’re illegal in your area or if you’d simply like to keep everyone as safe as possible, going to a public display may be the way to go.
A little bit of forethought can go a long way in keeping your kids safe this summer. Remember that fireworks can be dangerous and take some common-sense precautions to ensure a safe holiday.