As we approach the 4th of July, we all get excited to celebrate our freedom by blowing things up. As a safety professional (who has blown things up in the past) I urge parents, drunk uncles and others to first look critically at the impact these actions may have on the world around you.
According to NFPA, each July 4th, thousands of people, most often children and teens, are injured while using consumer fireworks. Despite the obvious inherent dangers of fireworks, few people understand the risks and the potential impacts that can occur when things go wrong, such as devastating burns, forest fires, house fires, and even death. Some numbers provided by NFPA:
- From 2009-2013, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 18,500 fires caused by fireworks. These fires included 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires and 16,900 outside and other fires. An estimated two people were killed in these fires.
- In 2014, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 10,500 people for fireworks related injuries; 51% of those injuries were to the extremities and 38% were to the head. These injury estimates were obtained or derived from the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s 2014 Fireworks Annual Report.
- The risk of fireworks injury is highest for young people ages 5-9, followed by children 10-19.
- More than one-quarter (28%) of fires started by fireworks in 2009-2013 were reported on July 4th.
- Of the fires reported on July 4th, almost half (47%) of the reported fires on the Fourth of July were started by fireworks.
- You can find these statistics and other information on the NFPA website.
If these facts don’t prevent you from firing off those bottle rockets and firecrackers, please remember that some people and pets suffer every year. Most animals are terrified of fireworks and many get startled and run when they hear fireworks. They end up lost and afraid. Please secure your pet in the house and better yet in a cool and quiet basement. I can’t remember even one summer going by without someone I know whose pet didn’t run away due to fireworks.
Veterans returning from overseas and others who may be suffering from PTSD can also have a reaction to fireworks. As a matter of fact, Michigan has designated firework-free parks that will provide visitors a fireworks-free camping option over the 4th of July weekend. So, please think twice or three times before setting off fireworks this year.
Firework Free Parks link is here.
A story brought to you by Schneider Risk Management, LLC