Want to set off fireworks at home for the 4th of July? Experts warn against it

(Meredith) -- Fireworks are arguably the best part of celebrating the Fourth of July, and you may be tempted to set off your own since many public displays have been cancelled across the U.S. But experts are warning against it.

The National Fire Protection Association is encouraging people to find safe and creative alternatives for celebrating the holiday.

“Fireworks are simply too dangerous and unpredictable to be used safely by consumers. Even sparklers, which are often considered harmless enough for children, burn as hot as 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit and can cause third-degree burns,"  said Lorraine Carli, vice president of Outreach and Advocacy at NFPA.

In addition to the harm fireworks can inflict on individuals, they can also place undue burdens on first responders and emergency room staff.

Hospital emergency rooms in the U.S. treated an estimated 10,000 fireworks-related injuries in 2019, with 73 percent occurring during the month surrounding the Fourth of July (June 21-July 21), according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. During that period, sparklers were the number one cause of injuries, accounting for an estimated 900.

“First responders and our health care services have been working tirelessly to protect the public throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Carli. “A great way for people to show their support is to avoid consumer use of fireworks and help minimize the number of avoidable incidents that require response and care.”

If you live in an area where it's legal to set off fireworks, be sure to take the appropriate safety precautions.

Tips to make sure you and your family stay safe this holiday

  • Obey all local laws regarding the use of fireworks.
  • Know your fireworks; read the cautionary labels and performance descriptions before igniting.
  • A responsible adult should supervise all firework activities. Never give fireworks to children.
  • Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Save your alcohol for after the show.
  • Wear safety glasses when shooting fireworks.
  • Light one firework at a time and then quickly move away.
  • Use fireworks outdoors in a clear area; away from buildings and vehicles.
  • Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
  • Always have a bucket of water and charged water hose nearby.
  • Never carry fireworks in your pocket or shoot them into metal or glass containers.
  • Do not experiment with homemade fireworks.
  • Dispose of spent fireworks by wetting them down and place in a metal trash can away from any building or combustible materials until the next day.
  • FAA regulations PROHIBIT the possession and transportation of fireworks in your checked baggage or carry-on luggage.
  • Report illegal explosives, like M-80s and quarter sticks, to the fire or police department.

Pet safety tips

We can't forget about our furry family members, so here are a few tips to make sure they stay calm and don't get too frightened by the explosions.

  • Don’t bring your pets to a fireworks display, even a small one.
  • If fireworks are being used near your home, put your pet in a safe interior room to avoid exposure to the sound.
  • Make sure your pet has an identification tag, in case it runs off during a fireworks display.
  • Never shoot fireworks of any kind (consumer fireworks, sparklers, fountains, etc.) near pets.

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