The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports 230 people on average go to the emergency room with fireworks-related injuries on each of the days around July 4.
Over lunch recently, a claims manager shared some less-obvious advice based on real experience with insurance customers:
- Don't light fireworks on lawns. You might think green turf isn't flammable, but if your grass or weeds are parched, they can ignite when showered with sparks that burn at more than 1,000 degrees.
- Don't store fireworks in bulk. If they detonate on their own (perhaps from being improperly stored near a heat source), you're better off with a minimal explosion than a huge one. Think of war movies where armories are targeted. Not good.
- Keep a garden hose nearby. Well, duhh, I'm stating the obvious, right? But you'd be surprised how many July 4 fires could have been doused quickly with a squirt of water.
- Never alter or combine fireworks. I was guilty of this as a kid, when one of the "safe and sane" favorites was a Piccolo Pete that emitted a shrill whistle when lit. We learned how to modify them before lighting, so that they would explode, not whistle. And it was a dangerously large explosion, stronger than a mere firecracker.
- Never relight a dud firework. You've likely heard that before, but too often, a dud instead turns out to be a slow igniter that goes off in someone's hand.