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Hey watch this: A discussion about fireworks

  • Published
  • By Maj Steve Bostwick
  • 14th Flying Training Wing Flight Safety Officer

As we prepare to celebrate our nation’s 243rd birthday, the unbridled enthusiasm we feel to ignite those grills, crack open a refreshing beverage, and throw out our backs in back yard playing football are quite appealing - well, maybe only partially true on the latter example.

As Americans, we love to profess our love of this great nation. What better way is there to express this profound loyalty and dedication to freedom than to engage in an excessive display of pyrotechnic shenanigans; you know, launching fireworks? Some might even say, “It is our patriotic duty,” to enthrall the neighborhood with our public display of vibrant firepower, but did you know that during the month surrounding July 4th an average of 280 people are sent to the emergency room every day for fireworks-related injuries? That is right boys and girls, this here is a fireworks safety article, so strap in and get ready to feel the G’s!

Look, I know what you are thinking, “Fireworks safety is for those imbeciles who imbibe a bit too many libations and before you know it, we have bottle rockets being taped to drones flying strafing runs at your neighbor, Jim’s kids; you know the ones that throw rocks at your cat?” An oddly specific example? Let us move on, then!

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), 53% of all fireworks injuries resulted from burns: 37% to the arms and hands, 36% to the eyes and face, 17% to the legs, and 10% to the torso region. Many of these injuries could have been prevented with adult supervision or in many more cases, sober supervision.

The CPSC does offer sage advice in safely administering your little “Rockets’ red glare, bombs bursting in air…,”extravaganza, most of which can be argued as common sense. Understanding that common sense is not nearly as common these days, let us review a few guidelines.

Never allow children to operate any fireworks without proper supervision (sparklers burn at nearly 2000° F), never point fireworks at another person, keep a bucket of water/garden hose readily available for any mishaps, fireworks wrapped in brown paper are usually professional-grade and require special licensing to operate, douse all expended fireworks in water to prevent the spread of fire. If more than two of these guidelines shocked you, it is probably time to relinquish your responsibilities as the chief pyrotechnician of the cul-de-sac this year.

Remember, if you have to think, “Is this a good idea,” it is probably not a good idea. Adhere to the fireworks’ warning labels and the guidelines provided by the CPSC and your local safety office. As you celebrate our nation’s independence by blowing up a small part of it, remember that safety should never be substituted for intolerable negligence.

The one time you fail to heed these cautionary ideals; well, let us just say that your significant other may be opening the ketchup bottle for you the next time Jim invites your family over for a barbeque. Anyway, have a happy and safe 4th of July!