Don’t red, white and blow yourself up this 4th of July. Here are some firework safety tips

·3 min read
Sydney Walsh/swalsh@miamiherald.com

Leave the fireworks to the professionals.

That’s the Broward Sheriff’s Office’s theme for this Fourth of July. But if you plan on firing off your own fireworks, though, Battalion Chief Michael Kane has some tips on how to stay safe during Independence Day celebrations.

“If you’re going to participate and partake in fireworks, do it safely,” Kane said during a media demonstration of firework dangers at the Broward Fire Academy.

Firework safety tips may seem like common sense, but in the midst of the excitement celebrating with family and friends it becomes a little easier for extremely important practices to slip the mind.

One key safety tip shared was to move back quickly from fireworks after lighting them. While they look and sound fun, these are still controlled explosions that can cause serious injury if in close proximity.

Another common sense practice would be to only use legal fireworks, no reason to break the law to have fun, officials often say. In Florida, certain airborne explosive fireworks are illegal if not trained properly and sanctioned.

The HCA Florida Healthcare advises to follow the directions on the labels, as well as using long lighters that help maintain safe distance from the actual firework.

Cleanup is just as important when it comes to firework safety.

“Make sure you properly dispose of your fireworks,” Kane added. “The best way to do that is to take your fireworks or unburned fireworks, place them in a bucket or garbage can and then fill the garbage can with water overnight.”

The water will soak the fireworks, making sure that they won’t light or re-light later.

Kane explained that even legal fireworks, including sparklers, can cause severe injury.

“Some of these injuries that we often see can be compared to battlefield injuries,” said Kane. “Even something as benign as a sparkler, which we use for birthday parties and we often give them to our children, can also be destructive because they burn at 1200 degrees or higher.”

The BSO bomb squad demonstrated the power of more explosive fireworks by blowing up some watermelons at the Broward Fire Academy.

The days leading up to Fourth of July are often busy for emergency workers, as fire and injuries (such as eye injuries and second- and third-degree burns) increase.

“On average each year, about 20,000 fires are reported in the days leading up to the Fourth of July,” said Kane, citing the National Fire Protection Association.

Last year saw almost 3,000 injuries related to firecrackers and sparklers alone.

“HCA Florida Healthcare emergency rooms once again are preparing for fireworks-related injuries of hands, fingers, the head, face and eyes,” stated HCA Florida Healthcare in the press release.

Although injuries may be common around Independence Day, there are steps to stay safe, as well as resources available from BSO.

“We’re very well prepared for the Fourth of July weekend and the days leading up to Fourth of July,” said Kane. “We have enough resources to be able to combat the the additional calls that we might experience during this weekend leading up to the holiday.”

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