The Fourth of July is one of the biggest party holidays of the year. It’s a celebration of our independence as a nation and it falls right in the middle of the summer when temperatures are high, kids are out of school and adults are ready to party.
Picnics, barbecues, beach parties and boat outings are popular ways to celebrate the day and many of these events also include a display of fireworks alongside plenty of drinking. Most people fail to realize just how dangerous fireworks can be, even the seemingly minor ones, like sparklers. Combine what are actually explosives with alcohol, and you’re primed for disaster.
Firework danger: The statistics
Statistics from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission detail the types of injuries and frequency of injuries, and even fatalities, caused by fireworks each year. Not surprisingly, 60% of firework-related injuries occur around the July 4th holiday. And while not all accidents with fireworks can be blamed on alcohol, it certainly plays a role.
- Firecrackers cause the most injuries, accounting for 23% of all incidents.
- Bottle rockets are blamed in 12% of accidents.
- Sparklers, the fireworks deemed safe for even small children, cause 12% of injuries.
In 2012, six people were killed by fireworks and another 8,700 were injured badly enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room. About 5,000 of those visits occurred around the holiday. The accidents were mostly blamed on either malfunctioning fireworks or improper use. Forty-one percent of injuries were to hands or fingers, 19% were to the face or head, while 12% were to the eyes. More than half of the accidents resulted in burns.
Fireworks while under the influence
Fireworks can be dangerous even without the use of alcohol. Add alcohol to the mix and the danger level goes up several notches. Considering the fact that many of the accidents caused by fireworks are related to improper use, it becomes clear that alcohol can play a big role in these injuries.
According to age, 15-24 year-olds account for more than 30% of July 4th firework accidents. We also know that underage drinking among boys doubles around the holiday and statistics show a doubling in the number of emergency room visits for boys because of drinking. The increase is much smaller for underage girls. The combination of dangerous fireworks, underage boys making bad decisions and alcohol is a disaster waiting to happen.
Staying safe on the holiday
You can have a responsible fireworks display without injuring yourself or anyone else. Make sure that only one person is handling the fireworks and that this person knows how to properly use them. Also be sure that this person is not drinking until the show is over. If you are a parent, watch your teens, especially boys, and make sure they are not drinking. Take precautions in case the worst happens and have a hose or fire extinguisher nearby, as well as a first aid kit.
Firework displays can be breathtakingly beautiful. They are a great way to celebrate this important holiday, but they can also lead to tragedy. Play it safe this year and be responsible. Don’t tolerate drinking and handling fireworks. It just isn’t worth the consequences.