We see a significant amount of consumer-related fireworks injuries every year.Chris Wyman, CFI-CI, investigator, New Hampshire Division of Fire Safety, Office of the State Fire Marshal
Summer comes with many reasons to celebrate—graduations, family vacations, barbecues, and of course, the fourth of July. In New Hampshire, where many families flock for vacations, the purchase and lighting of certain permissible fireworks is legal, making the activity a popular summer pastime.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that approximately 11,900 fireworks related injuries are treated each year in United States emergency rooms. Here are tips for keeping you—and your family—safe during the most popular season for fireworks.
Leave fireworks to the professionals
“Attending a professional display is truly the safest way to enjoy fireworks,” says Chris Wyman, CFI-CI, Investigator, New Hampshire Division of Fire Safety, Office of the State Fire Marshal. “We see a significant amount of consumer-related fireworks injuries every year. When used inappropriately, or handled incorrectly, the consequences can be severe injury or death.”
The “Three B’s”
Because the sale and use of certain permissible fireworks is legal in the state of New Hampshire, it is important to address the rules and safety considerations should an adult choose to use them. The New Hampshire Division of Fire Safety, Office of the State Fire Marshal, recommends following the “Three B’s” for safety: Be Prepared; Be Safe; Be Responsible.”
Know the laws. You must be 21 years of age to purchase, possess and use permissible fireworks in the state of New Hampshire. You must be on your own property or have written permission to use someone else’s property or be in the landowner’s presence. You must also follow local ordinances, which may have further restrictions on fireworks use in your area.
Do your research. Make sure you are using New Hampshire permissible fireworks. You should only purchase fireworks from a licensed retailer, where sales associates are trained to answer your questions. Follow all manufacturer safety instructions and if you have questions, ask your retailer for help.
Prep your area. Call your local fire department to check on current fire danger conditions. Make sure there is enough space from structures and make safety preparations, such as having a fire extinguisher, hose and buckets of water nearby.
Protect yourself. Always wear eye and ear protection, gloves and clothing that cannot easily ignite (e.g. no nylon).
Keep spectators at a safe distance. Each firework device has a specific safety distance listed in its instructions. All fireworks should be set off outdoors and away from anything that can burn or easily ignite. Light only one device at a time and move away quickly.
Be considerate. Not everyone enjoys fireworks. Veterans, pets, livestock or your neighbor may not appreciate the sounds and effects of fireworks. Check with neighbors before making any plans for firework activity.
Stay cautious. Devices that don’t fire are extremely dangerous. If a firework does not discharge, keep away for 10 minutes or more, then ensure that the firework has been filled with water or placed in a bucket of water.
Clean up. Clean up firework debris when finished. Make sure any debris or items used to light fireworks (matches, lighters) are secured and out of the reach of children.
Remember - There are no “minor” fireworks
Among the top three most injury causing devices are firecrackers and bottle rockets. Sparklers can be just as unsafe as any other firework, burning at 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit. The diagram to the right shows just how hot that can be. Sparklers can easily burn little hands, and have caused children’s clothing to catch on fire. Leave the sparklers for adults to handle and send the kids off with glow sticks or novelty LED lights.
“At the end of the day, fireworks are entertainment with an explosive,” says Wyman. “It’s not worth somebody’s life.”