REGION — Summer is in full effect and the skies are starting to finally clear up long enough to enjoy the spectacle of a fireworks display. Whether its the Fourth of July or just shooting off bottle rockets in your driveway, lighting up the sky during the summer nights is a tradition shared by many.

As with anything combustible, there are safety measures that need to be taken into account so that Franklin County residents, or anyone for that matter, can continue to enjoy fireworks free of burns and keeping all their fingers attached.

The first and foremost safety tip that appears on a variety of lists is to leave it in the hands of professionals. Most wildfires, fire-related injuries and deaths typically occur when consumers attempt to launch fireworks in their own backyard.

The National Fire Protection Association strongly recommends attending professional fireworks displays, stating on a 2022 infographic that “The only safe
way to view fireworks is to attend a professional show. It is important to know that fireworks are not safe in the hands of consumers.”

The NFPA reported in 2022 that there are more than 19,500 reported fires started by fireworks annually and burns account for 44% of the 9,100 injuries treated in emergency rooms seen in the month around July 4. They also reported that sparklers account for roughly one-quarter of emergency room fireworks injuries.

In a similar report, the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission stated that 73% of injuries occur in the weeks leading up to the Fourth of July and the weeks that follow it. They also reported that the two most common fireworks that caused the most injuries were firecrackers and sparklers.


Sparklers are something to pay close attention to especially since children will often be found with sparklers in hands during parades, festivals and more. The National Safety Council reported that sparklers can burn at about 2,000 degrees, which is hot enough to melt some metals. For contrast, the NFPA listed the melting point of glass at 900 degrees.

The NFPA, NSC and CPSC all state that children should not be allowed to play with or ignite fireworks, especially sparklers. The NFPA recommends glow sticks and noise makers as safer alternatives to sparklers for children of all ages.

The CPSC reported in 2022 that adults 25 to 44 years old experienced about 36% of the estimated injuries, and children younger than 15 years old accounted for 28% of the estimated injuries. The parts of the body most often injured were hands and fingers.

The CPSC reported 11 deaths in 2022, primarily attributed to mortar-style devices. Five of those deaths were due to misuse while three were due to device misfire/malfunction.

One of the victims, a 42-year-old male, was killed when lighting off fireworks in the street near his home. Nearby witnesses claimed that the victim lit a mortar-style device and placed the mortar tube on top of his own head. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene by emergency responders. Alcohol was being consumed at the time of the incident.

In another incident, an 11-year-old boy was fatally injured while shooting off fireworks with his family. The victim held lit mortar-type device above his head. Investigators believe that the device was loaded correctly, and that it malfunctioned. The official cause of death is listed as “open head injuries due to fireworks mortar.”


If you are planning on using consumer firework, the CPSC recommends the following:

• Keep fireworks away from young children.

• Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy, in case of fire or other mishap.

• Make sure fireworks are legal in your area, and only purchase and set off fireworks that are labeled for consumer [not professional] use.

• Never use fireworks while impaired by alcohol or drugs.

The Transportation Safety Laboratory, a department of Homeland Security, also recommends:


• Never place a part of your body directly over a firework or hold a firework in your hand when lighting.

• Light only one firework at a time.

• Designate a safe perimeter to keep people safely away from fireworks.

• Let duds sit for five or 10 minutes before you pick them up to dowse them in water.

One final note, separate from safety, is the personal use of consumer fireworks around those who may be sensitive to the sound and other aspects. The most common examples of this are veterans and animals.

In an article published by the United States Department of Veteran Affairs in 2022, many veterans are outspoken against the use of fireworks to celebrate the Fourth of July. One veteran in particular, retired U.S. Marine Oscar Solis, Jr., told the VA, “I’m very honored by the intent, but it’s the celebration behind it – the fireworks, the large crowds – that’s a bit much for me.”


Annie Tang, staff psychologist at Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital, went on to say in the article, “As beautiful as they are, the sounds, smells and shockwaves of fireworks can be triggering for veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. These can bring up emotional and physiological reactions, and bring up trauma memories from the past, which can bring up intense anxiety and fear.”

In the article, Tang explained that the brain is very good at pairing things, especially threat, which means that combat veterans, or those who worked in combat zones, can pair threat easily with something in their environment, whether it be sights, sounds, or smells.

Veterans that are returning to civilian life may experience PTSD, so events like the Fourth of July, while meant to be a patriotic celebration of our country and those who fight to defend it, can trigger an episode for a veteran.

As for pets, The Human Society of the United States recommends that you keep your pets away from fireworks displays altogether, as the noise and commotion of fireworks may frighten them and cause them to run and become lost.

Pets can find fireworks highly stressful and may even suffer devastating or even fatal health effects due to the stress of the fireworks. The Humane Society recommends leaving them indoors with either a TV or radio and treats for them to find comfort.

With the Fourth of July past, many of these issue are behind us, but with the recent rainfall, many are anxious to get out and experience the summer weather and maybe even light off a few more fireworks. Just remember these safety tips to make sure you can enjoy the spectacle without having to make a very unfortunate trip to the ER.

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