The US Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued a new, timely warning about the dangers of fireworks. In this year’s PSA, the government teamed up with professional NFL player Jason Pierre-Paul, who explains how last 4th of July he tried to relight a firework, but instead blew off a part of his right hand, losing a finger and part of his thumb. “Anyone doubting the danger fireworks pose need only look at JPP’s hand and listen to his story,” CPSC Chairman Elliot Kaye said in a statement.
Last year’s government PSA was a horror show, with several graphic vignettes of dummies being completely mangled by fireworks. The video ran nearly seven minutes and showed various mannequins and fruit objects being lit on fire or completely obliterated. Unlike the agency’s early PSAs, which literally included stick figure animations with words like “OUCH!”, firework safety is really no joke.
Devastating injuries like the one suffered by Pierre-Paul happen every year, and used to happen across the country with frightening regularity. In fact, the Times recently explored the history of firework-related accidents, and early America sounded a lot like a missing script from a Purge movie. “In 1865, The New York Times wrote of ‘gangs of young men’ roaming the streets with firearms, scaring the public and injuring themselves,” the Times reported, noting further that The American Medical Association “documented more than 1,500 deaths and more than 33,000 injuries connected to the holiday from 1903 to 1910.” Just today, more than a century later, a man reportedly lost his foot to a possible fireworks explosion in New York City’s Central Park.
So if you are going to light things on fire this year to celebrate life and liberty, make sure you lose neither life nor liberty in the process. Here are the government’s “safety steps” for blowing things up responsibly:
- Make sure consumer fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.
- Never use or make professional grade fireworks.
- Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks, including sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees°F─hot enough to melt some metals.
- Do not buy fireworks that are packaged in brown paper, which is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays.
- Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Move to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
- Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy, in case of fire or other mishap.
- Never try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them with water and throw them away.
- Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
- Light fireworks one at a time, then move away from them quickly.
- After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding the device to prevent a trash fire.