American’s celebrating Independence Day with food, family, fun, and fireworks (in some form or another) is as old as the founding of these United States. John Adams described it best in a letter to his wife.

The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America.—I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.

As a local, retired history teacher loves to point out that the true Independence day was yesterday, July 2nd. Though the day we celebrate is incorrect, the observance of the 4th of July carries with it a large increase of firework related injures.

Injuries by the numbers

The Consumer Product Safety Commission puts out an annual report of Fireworks-Related Deaths, Emergency Department-Treated Injuries, and Enforcement Activities. There was an estimated 5,600 firework-related injures show up in hospitals in the 1 month period around July 4th in 2018. That’s 62% of the total injuries resulting in hospital visits for the year!

44% of injuries are burns. Some fireworks, like sparklers, can burn hot enough to cause 3rd degree burns. Hands and fingers are the most common body part injured at 28% followed by legs (24%); eyes (19%); head, face, and ears (15%); and arms (4%).

One half of all injuries occur to those under 20 years of age and over a third of all injuries happen to those under 15. Kids 10 to 14 are most likely to be injured with ages 15 to 19 coming in second most likely. This leads many organizations to suggest children not use fireworks. At the very least, direct supervision should be used to make sure safety practices are being observed.

Safety Practices

You can set a good example of firework safety by observing all local and state laws. Make sure you follow all instructions and use each firework as directed on the packaging. Here are some other tips to help make your 4th of July safer.

  • Only light fireworks outside and away from flammables like trash, other fireworks, and your home.
  • Wear safety goggles and leather gloves while lighting fireworks.
  • Keep a bucket of water or hose close by to use in case of fire or to douse duds.
  • Never light fireworks under the influence of alcohol.
  • Never hold lit fireworks in your hand or light and throw fireworks.
  • Never lean over fireworks.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at anyone.
  • Never relight “dud” fireworks
  • Never ignite fireworks inside a container that could explode or shatter.
  • Offer children safe alternatives like glow sticks or confetti poppers.

Even if you’re not planning on shooting fireworks yourself, taking a few safety measures is important. Safety glasses are a good idea even for spectators. You never know if the wind might carry debris in your direction, or worse, a firework falls over.

Consumer grade artillery shells could travel up to 80 miles per hour. A good rule of thumb for safe viewing distances is 100 feet for every inch in diameter of the artillery tube. At 80 miles per hour, a firework can travel 100 feet in under 1 second. The more distance, the better.

Be Safe and Have a Happy 4th of July

Remember, fireworks are dangerous. Even when following safety recommendations, accidents can happen. It’s smart to have someone trained in first aid on hand with the proper supplies when using them. If an injury does occur, take them to a hospital or emergency room as soon as possible.

From all of us at Null Chiropractic, we wish you a happy and safe 4th of July!