Where I live in northern California, fireworks are illegal. But you’d never know that on the Fourth of July. From early afternoon until late into the night, the pop and crackle of firecrackers, the whine of spinners, the boom-plus-shriek of aerial shell rockets echoes off the hills. And as darkness settles, sparklers and Roman candles sputter up and down the street.
Legal or not, fireworks are absurdly easy to obtain. Even if your local laws prohibit them, chances are they’re legal a few counties over. If that’s not enough, you can order them over the Internet with no one the wiser. Sure, state shipping restrictions have made firework sales illegal. But that doesn’t stop people from ordering fountains and missiles with names like Battle Cry, The Big Dog, Party Pyrometer and Whacky Tobacky.
My community isn’t alone in going fireworks-crazy; firework purchases have increased dramatically in the U.S. over the past 25 years, from 29 million pounds in 1976 to 265.5 million pounds in 2007, the last year the American Pyrotechnics Association kept track.
Luckily, thanks to local laws, tighter regulations and better safety smarts, fireworks-related injuries have decreased more than 90 percent over the same number of years. Yet according to the American College of Emergency Physicians, there are still 10,000 accidents each year serious enough to result in an emergency room visit. Of course, the National Council on Fireworks Safety still advises strongly against using fireworks at all, particularly in areas where they aren’t legal. But if you do, here are their safety tips on how protect your family during fireworks season.
Do fireworks drive your dogs crazy? Remember that they drive some people crazy, too. Be sensitive to aging parents and others who may be bothered by the crowds and noise of a fireworks display. If you’re a caregiver, consider taking your loved one out to a restaurant, movie theater or shopping mall where they can enjoy a quieter night.
Finally, it pays to be prepared in the event of a fireworks accident or any other type of emergency. If you’re an Android user, download the free S.O.S. app from the Red Cross and Sharecare. It has first-aid tips for caring for burns and eye injuries, plus instant access to 911 from any location.
For more summer safety tips, visit our summer safety center.
Do you have a safe way to celebrate the Fourth of July that doesn’t involve fireworks? We’d love to hear about it!
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