4 firework safety tips for the 4th of July

If you’re planning to take your family to one of Chattanooga’s firework shows to celebrate Independence Day, great! If you’re planning to set off a few in a rousing celebration at home, check out these safety tips first.

It is legal to set off fireworks within the Chattanooga city limits and unincorporated areas of Hamilton County. Before deciding to make your own display, though, check with your local municipality (and even your homeowners’ association) about whether their regulations allow fireworks.

Each year millions of fireworks are set off on the Fourth of July and surrounding days. But along with those fireworks comes added danger — the Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that an average of 230 people nationwide go to the hospital with fireworks-related injuries on most days of the month around the holiday.

If you plan to celebrate with fireworks at home, follow these safety guidelines:

  1. Read and follow all package instructions. That seems self-explanatory, right? But that rule of thumb isn’t always followed.

Pay particular attention to the instructions about lighting the firework. Don’t stand directly over the device when lighting it. Light only one firework at a time and move away quickly.

Be certain that the fireworks you purchase come in manufacturer packaging. If they don’t, they may have come from a larger package designed for professional displays, which are unsafe for at-home use.

  1. Adult supervision is required. Only adults should light fireworks. Even sparklers burn at temperatures around 2,000 degrees, which is hot enough to melt some metals, and they can quickly ignite clothing.

Want the fun of a sparkler without the danger? Safe Kids Worldwide recommends handing out glow sticks or other light-up toys to kids.

Children, even older ones, should not be allowed to play with fireworks, whether they’re lit or not.

One thing to keep in mind? The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend the at-home use of fireworks at all.

  1. Don’t relight “duds.” If a firework doesn’t go off, proceed with caution. Don’t just pick up the dud.

 The National Council on Fireworks Safety recommends waiting 20 minutes before approaching the firework, then soaking it in water.

Dispose of spent fireworks in a similar fashion. Wet them down, then place them in a metal container away from buildings and combustible materials until the following day.

  1. Remember that fireworks aren’t a toy. There are a few things you should never do:
  • Don’t point or throw fireworks at someone else.
  • Don’t carry fireworks in your pocket.
  • Don’t shoot off fireworks indoors or near/toward buildings.
  • Don’t light fireworks near dry grass.
  • Don’t shoot off fireworks in a metal or glass container.
  • Don’t experiment with creating or lighting homemade fireworks.

Erlanger Health System is the region’s only Level I Trauma Center, and emergency care is available. If y
ou suffer a fireworks-related emergency, call 911.