Is there anyone out there, really, who doesn’t just love a great fireworks display? Well, maybe the family hound would be happy to give the big bangs and exploding flashes of light a miss, but apart from that, it’s safe to say that people of all ages look forward to the Fourth of July celebrations that invariably conclude with a dazzling fireworks display.
Here’s the thing, though. Every single year, in Oregon and right across the country, horrible and life-changing injuries are caused by fireworks being used incorrectly.
Making sure that everyone in your family understands the importance of fireworks safety is crucial to ensuring that this Fourth of July provides only the happiest of memories.
Leave fireworks to the professionals
Whether or not fireworks are legal in your area (and in many places they are not), the easiest and best way to ensure you and your family aren’t injured, burned or blinded by fireworks is to attend a public display. Portland personal injury attorneys strongly advise parents to leave fireworks displays to the professionals; sit back, relax, and enjoy the show with the kids.
Invariably, of course, people will light fireworks at or near their homes. If this is the case, a number of safety precautions should be made absolute top priorities, before a single fuse is lit. Some of the more important dos and don’ts include:
- Never, ever let young children play with fireworks. They’re going to want to light rockets and throw firecrackers, but quite simply, this is just too dangerous. Consider letting them hold sparklers, but only ever outside and only after explaining to them just how hot the “business” end of the sparkler is and how badly it could burn them. If you’re in any doubt, consider that sparklers can reach temperatures of 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit, or hot enough to melt solid gold.
- Never buy unlabeled fireworks; they’re probably illegal. Legal fireworks will have a label, the manufacturer’s name and instructions in safe usage clearly printed on the containers and the fireworks themselves. Store the fireworks in a cool, dry place before use.
- If you see fireworks with the names M-80, M100, quarter pounder or blockbuster, stay away from them. These extra-loud fireworks were actually banned in 1966, yet they still account for a large number of serious fireworks injuries every year.
- Keep a bucket of water nearby and, if possible, a hose, just in case. It may sound obvious, but fireworks should only ever be lit outside, in open areas.
- Fireworks can and do backfire or shoot off in the wrong direction, so make sure there’s no one else in the immediate vicinity when you’re lighting your rockets.
- Never, ever throw a firecracker at someone. It’s not funny, and people end up in emergency rooms every year when these “jokes” go wrong.
- Never hold rockets, Roman candles or other fireworks in your hand while you’re lighting them, and don’t lean over them when you’re setting them off.
- If you’re the person responsible for lighting the fireworks, wear some sort of eye protection, even if it’s just sunglasses.
- About 50,000 fires are caused by fireworks every year, and many of these occur when fireworks come into contact with dry brush, leaves and roofs of houses. Always point your fireworks away from homes and away from any dry vegetation.
- Only light one firework at a time, and don’t ever try to relight a dud. People lose fingers every year by picking up duds that suddenly explode.
- Before you throw used fireworks away, soak them in a bucket of water before you put them in the trash can.
- We mentioned the family hound earlier. Animals get absolutely terrified of the loud, unfamiliar and unexpected noises and lights. If you have a pet, keep them indoors during the fireworks displays.
If the worst happens…
Unfortunately, it’s usually children who are injured by fireworks every year. Injuries caused by fireworks can be very severe and are always intensely painful. If your child has been injured by fireworks, follow these steps:
- Go straight to a doctor or to the hospital. Don’t try to treat a fireworks injury at home with ointment or ice.
- If someone’s eye has been injured, do not let that person touch or rub the eye, as the damage could be exacerbated.
- Do not try to flush out the eye with water, and don’t put ointment on it. If it’s a child’s eye, cut the bottom out of a paper cup, and place the cup over the affected eye (much like a cone around a dog’s head to keep them from scratching something they shouldn’t). In this case, your child’s vision may depend on it.
- If the injury is a bad burn, get any clothing away from the burned skin surface and run cool—but not too cold—water directly over the burn. Never put ice on the burn, and as soon as you can, get the victim to a doctor or hospital.
The Fourth of July is meant to be a blast for the whole family, but it’s up to parents to ensure that the“blast” is of the enjoyable variety. Portland personal injury attorneys warn people every year to avoid illegal fireworks, and to only ever light fireworks in safe conditions. If possible, the family should be taken to a public fireworks display, where everyone can enjoy the festivities.
Children and fireworks just don’t mix, except in the visual sense. They should, quite simply, never be allowed to handle firecrackers or to light rockets.
If the worst happens and a member of your family has been injured in an Oregon fireworks accident, get them the medical help they need. After that, if you think the accident was the result of someone else’s negligence, or if the manufacturer is at fault, you should contact a reputable and experienced Portland personal injury attorney.