Know your fireworks

  • Published
  • By Mark Schaffer
  • 82nd Training Wing Safety Office
Everyone enjoys fireworks, especially in the festive Fourth of July season. But some devices can be dangerous.

The National Council on Fireworks Safety recommends that you only buy consumer fireworks from a licensed store, tent or stand. Never buy fireworks from an individual's house or from someone on the street. Such devices are likely to be illegal explosives or professional 1.3G fireworks that can seriously injure you.

Consumer fireworks, regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, are packaged in bright colors and have safety warnings on the package. The packaging sets forth the country of origin, which is normally China. Typical consumer fireworks include fountains, cones, sparklers, firecrackers, rockets and multi‐tube products.

Illegal explosives are often unpackaged and wrapped with plain brown paper. They are unlikely to have any safety warnings or place of manufacture. Many of them are handmade in basements or illicit factories. They go by names such as M‐80, Quarter Stick or Cherry Bombs. 

If someone approaches you to sell one of these illegal explosives, politely decline and then call your local police department. Professional 1.3G fireworks are legal, but only in the hands of a licensed, trained pyro-technician. These devices are very different than consumer fireworks, are extremely powerful and are not meant for consumer use.

Using sparklers on our nation's birthday is as traditional as cookouts and swimming and is equally safe if a few common sense rules are followed.

But according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission approximately 16 percent of all consumer fireworks injuries are caused by sparklers burning hands and legs, with the majority of sparkler injuries occurring to young children. These are injuries that would not have occurred if there had been close adult supervision and if some basic safety steps had been taken.

The National Council on Fireworks Safety offers these safety steps for sparklers, in the hopes that sparkler injuries to young children can be greatly reduced.

· Children under the age of 12 should not use sparklers without very close adult supervision.
· Always remain standing while using sparklers.
· Never hold a child in your arms while using sparklers.
· Never hold, or light, more than one sparkler at a time.
· Sparklers and bare feet can be a painful combination. Always wear closed‐toe shoes when using sparklers.
· Sparkler wire and stick remain hot long after the flame has gone out. Be sure to drop the spent sparklers directly in a bucket of water.
· Never hand a lighted sparkler to another person. Give them the unlit sparkler and then light it.
· Always stand at least six feet from another person while using sparklers.
· Never throw sparklers.
· Show children how to hold sparklers away from their body and at an arm's length.
· Teach children not to wave sparklers, especially wooden stick sparklers, or run while holding sparklers.

The National Council on Fireworks Safety urges Americans to be Sparkler Smart this Fourth of July in their holiday celebrations.