By Adrianna Bradley
This New Year’s Eve, many Americans and South Carolinians will continue the long tradition of lighting up the sky with fireworks at midnight. While the displays are visually compelling, DHEC is urging everyone to put safety first if they are participating in any firework activities.
“Thousands of people are treated in emergency departments for injuries sustained from fireworks,” said Neal Martin, program coordinator of DHEC’s Division of Injury, and Violence Prevention. “You cannot take safety for granted when it comes to fireworks.”
Fireworks can be harmful
Fireworks-related injuries can be serious but 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.”
Put safety first
The best way to prevent fireworks injuries is to leave fireworks displays to trained professionals. However, if you still want to light up fireworks at home, DHEC and the Columbia Fire Department want you to keep these safety tips in mind:
- Observe local laws. If you’re unsure whether it is legal to use fireworks, check with local officials.
- 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.
- Point or throw fireworks at another person.
- Re-ignite malfunctioning fireworks.
- Experiment or attempt to make your own fireworks.
- Give fireworks to small children.
- Carry fireworks in your pocket.
Protect Your Pets
Aside from making sure your family and friends stay safe, it’s also important to protect our furry friends. Pets should be kept safely inside the house to avoid additional stress and the possibility of lost pets (who escape fencing to run from fireworks).
Dogs who are fearful of fireworks should be isolated in rooms that provide the most soundproofing from the loud noises of fireworks going off. You can also play the radio to further muffle the noises.
Make sure that your pets have proper, current, visible identification in case they escape during the fireworks.
Also, never take your pets to firework shows.
For more information on firework safety, visit www.scdhec.gov and search for keyword “fireworks.”