Children and fireworks are a dangerous combination and adult supervision and smart practices can make summer pyrotechnic use safe and enjoyable.
According to the National Safety Council, kids between the ages of 10 and 14 are at three times the risk of fireworks injuries than the general public. Nearly one-third of those injuries were from small, exploding firecrackers. Bottle rockets and sparklers also cause significant injuries.
To keep the population safe, cities and counties inside the Military District of Washington prohibit small sparklers, firecrackers and skyrockets. Explosive fireworks and fireworks that launch into the air are illegal in Virginia. In Arlington County, sparklers, fountains, Pharaoh’s serpents, pinwheels, whirligigs and spinning jennies are permitted.
In the District of Columbia, any firework which explodes are illegal. Sparklers shorter than 20 inches are permitted in Washington, D.C.
But law enforcement officials and safety experts warn of the danger of sparklers. Temperatures from an ignited sparkler reaches close to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit and could cause third-degree burns.
“The sparklers are the most dangerous,” said Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Safety Officer Lenny Davis. “They can get up to 1,200 degrees. Those are things parents need to watch out for.”
Other rules and precautions firework users should heed include:
• Never use fireworks while impaired by drugs or alcohol
• Anyone using fireworks or standing nearby should wear protective eyewear
• Individuals should never hold lighted fireworks in their hands
• Never light them indoors
• Only use them away from people, houses and flammable materials
• Never point or throw fireworks at another person
• Only light one device at a time and maintain a safe distance after lighting
• Never ignite devices in a container
• Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks
• Soak spent and unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding
• Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don’t go off or in case of fire
Davis mentioned the safest way to enjoy firework displays is to be a spectator and allow experienced pyrotechnics teams do the work.
“Go to a fireworks display,” Davis said. “Nobody gets hurt. They (the pyrotechnics teams) are the experts.”
If at private, individual celebrations with children, groups are encouraged to use safer alternatives, like glow sticks, confetti poppers or colored streamers.
Pentagram Staff Writer Jim Dresbach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.