You've heard the message for years. And it's been ignored for years: Fireworks are dangerous and should only be used in supervised situations.
An estimated 7,600 of the total 11,000 fireworks-related injuries from two summers ago were treated in hospital emergency departments during the period between June 18 and July 18, 2016, according to a report by the Consumer Products Safety Commission and its National Electronic Injury Surveillance System.
This July 4th many Americans and South Carolinians will continue the long tradition of lighting up the night with fireworks. While the displays are visually compelling, people should put safety first.
"Thousands of people are treated in emergency departments for injuries sustained from fireworks," said Neal Martin, program coordinator of the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Division of Injury, and Violence Prevention. "You cannot take safety for granted when it comes to fireworks."
Fireworks-related injuries are preventable. They range from minor and major burns to fractures and amputations. In South Carolina, the most common fireworks-related injuries are burns and open wounds to the hands, legs, head and eyes.
"Fireworks are exciting to see this time of year, but they are dangerous when misused not only for the operator but also for bystanders and nearby structures," said Bengie Leverett, public fire education officer at the Columbia Fire Department. "Everyone is urged to use extreme precaution when using the devices."
As wise as advice about letting others handle the show may be, reality is people will be shooting fireworks in a state and region in which sale thereof is legal and doing so is a tradition.
Therefore, some practical advice about being legal and safe is in order.
The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission notes that some types of fireworks are banned by law on a federal and local level. Among such fireworks are Cherry Bombs, Silver Salutes and M-80s, which have been banned by federal law since 1966 because of the large amount of explosive composition they contain.
In Orangeburg, a city ordinance states that a person can be arrested for having in his possession any of the illegal fireworks.
City ordinance also forbids the shooting of fireworks on Sundays and from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. on designated days. A violation of the city ordinance is considered a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $1,000 or 30 days in jail.
In shooting your fireworks:
• Always read and follow label directions.
• Purchase fireworks from a reliable seller. All fireworks must show the product name, manufacturer's name, cautionary labeling and instructions for proper use.
• Never experiment or attempt to make your own fireworks.
• Never give fireworks to small children and always have water in proximity.
• Never carry fireworks in your pocket.
• Monitor local weather conditions. Dry weather can make it easier for fireworks to start a fire.
• Store fireworks in a cool, dry place.
• Always read and follow directions on each firework.
• Only use fireworks outdoors, away from homes, dry grass and trees.
• Always have an adult present when shooting fireworks.
• Ensure everyone is out of range before lighting fireworks.
• Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
• Light fireworks one at a time and keep a safe distance.
• After fireworks complete their burning, douse them with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.