It’s that time of year, 99% of all firework injuries will happen in the next three weeks so we thought this would be a great time to talk about what you can do to minimize the possibility of injuries and enjoy a safe and happy independence day. First we want to state that almost ALL injuries involving fireworks, are not CAUSED by fireworks…but rather the MISUSE of fireworks! Alcohol, lack of supervision, superman syndrome and taking apart and reassembling consumer fireworks into something they were not meant to be are all reported to be involved with a very large percentage of firework related injuries. Also noted are that over 80% of injuries from misuse are caused by rockets, firecrackers and sparkler type devices. Very few injuries are caused by aerial type devices tipping and shooting into crowds, but this is one area where improvements in precautions are easily made so in this article we will focus on that.
Firework injuries can range from minor burns, to rare cases of death…almost always involving illegal or larger professional grade fireworks, and while we can’t help fix foolishness, for those who do wish to celebrate safely we offer the following tips. First and foremost: DISTANCE! We recommend 100′ of separation between the spectators and the device being lit, so most 200g cakes will need close to 100′ while the larger 3″ 9 shot devices will be much safer from 300′ away, you do the math for your specific fireworks but always ask yourself this…”if this tips over is my child / spouse / spectators a safe distance away?” and then rethink where you decide to shoot from.
Here are some basic, inexpensive tools that will greatly decrease the chances of an errant aerial device ending up in the crowd, and how to use them to increase safety this 4th of July. First, every redneck engineering specialists must have sidekick, duct tape! we do not recommend the 3.99 a roll stuff either, pay for the high quality tape like Gorilla tape. A high quality tape like this is much more likely to perform and protect if needed. The other tools you will see used in this article are a simple wood grade stake (available at hardware stores in 36 packs for around $10.00) Acquire these items, and your ready to implement the strategies discussed below.
One of the most likely items to tip over and send errant shells and fire flying uncontrollably are the smaller cakes or aerial repeater type devices. Any item that is taller than it is wide is especially prone so here are a few easy suggestions on preventing tip overs for these items. Just setting an item in the fluffy grass and lighting it is about the worst thing you could do! The below images show how to easily stake and tape a cake using the items discussed above to prevent these type devices from tipping. simple!
Another simple idea to increase firework safety is to make, and use “firing boxes” these boxes are inexpensive and simple to make, basically a 3 sided box with a bottom screwed and glued together that both offers protection and gives a more solid base to shoot from than grass. Below you see one of these type boxes in use, some scrap 3/4″ plywood is all you need and your in business! Leaving the open side facing AWAY from your spectators allows the person lighting the firework to safely stand off to the side and still be able to reach the fuse, as well as remove them after firing without having to stand over the firework to pick it up out of the box.
A very popular item in recent years has become the use of reloadable shell kits, sometimes referred to as mortar fireworks. We recommend screwing down the base of your mortars (tunes) to a larger piece of wood. Whether the kit comes with a cardboard tube, fiberglass or plastic does not matter…just make sure not to over tighten to where the base cracks, if this happens it is no longer usable. Two screws in opposing corners is plenty to keep your relodable shell mortar tubes in a safe, upright direction.
Ok, we hope you will find some of the ideas and tips above easy and useful and implement them to assure you and yours have a safe fireworks season, and many more to follow!