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Dangers of Fireworks as the Fourth of July Approaches

Many sports fans remember the tragedy shortly after the Fourth of July last year involving Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.  At a holiday cookout in his hometown of Deerfield Beach, Florida, Pierre-Paul and his friends were celebrating the day by setting off $1,100 worth of fireworks for the whole neighborhood.  They had passed several hours enjoying the firework show and decided they would call it a night.  One friend, however, pointed out that there were only a few fireworks left, so they might as well set off the last few, right?  Pierre-Paul grabbed one of the last fireworks and attempted to light the fuse seven times to no avail as the wind kept blowing out his lighter.  Pierre-Paul stated in an interview with Sports Illustrated that he remembered thinking Let me try one more time… The firework finally ignited and immediately there was a deafening BOOM and a blinding green light that witnesses say engulfed Pierre-Paul.  The firework had exploded in his hand.  Pierre-Paul was in shock.  He had been setting off his own fireworks for his neighborhood since he was 15 years old, and this kind of accident had never occurred.  After this accident, Pierre-Paul had to endure 8 surgeries total and a skin graft in an attempt to make his hand as operational as possible.  Several of the bones in his fingers needed to be removed, and his hand is visibly deformed.  He has since returned to the sport, but his returning season has been underwhelming when compared to his seasons before his accident.

This is a case in point as to how dangerous lighting fireworks can be, and with the Fourth of July right around the corner, it is essential that we all take precautions to prevent such accidents from occurring.  According to the American Pyrotechnics Association (APA), more than 14,000 fireworks displays take place in the U.S. every fourth of the July.  The APA also estimates that backyard fireworks have more than doubled between 2000 and 2007, reaching 238 million pounds of fireworks.  “Backyard fireworks” are common but are extremely dangerous, even to those who have been setting them off for years.  Most people do not completely understand the potential risks they take when using consumer fireworks.  According to the National Fire Protection Association, U.S. emergency rooms treated an estimated 11,400 people for firework related injuries in 2013, 55 percent of these injuries being to the extremities and 38 percent to the head.  Typically, rates of firework related injuries are highest among infants and teenagers.  Males are also more likely to be injured by fireworks than females.  However, it is important to remember that anyone can be injured by fireworks, even observers at a town firework show.  There are precautions you can take in order to prevent severe injury while using fireworks.  These safety tips include:

  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.
  • Never allow young children to play with fireworks.
  • Avoid purchasing fireworks that are packaged in brown paper as these are often for professional displays rather than consumer use.
  • Always have adult supervision while using fireworks, even with sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures up to 2,000 degrees and can cause serious burns.
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a firework.
  • Never try to re-light fireworks that have not fully ignited.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Keep water close in the case of a fire or burn.
  • Light fireworks one at a time and move back quickly after igniting them.

Fireworks will always be a quintessential part of the Fourth of July, but it is important to be aware of hazards and precautions.