In the hands of curious children, fireworks can become hazards. When children disassemble fireworks and fail to follow directions, burn and eye injuries can occur.
"A 7-year-old is not a pyrotechnician; something that is legal can easily be tampered with and made dangerous," said Brad Bone, independent pyrochoreographer for Provo's Stadium of Fire's fireworks display.When children reassemble fireworks to make the effects more dramatic, a toy becomes a hazard. While experimentation is the cause of many injuries, carelessness can also be dangerous.
"Something that is so much fun and so pretty to watch can easily turn into a disaster," Bone said.
Fireworks without a fuse leave users little time to back away. Devices placed on sandy surfaces often send sand and other particles flying into the eyes of onlookers.
Eye injuries and first- and second-degree burns are the most common injuries, Bone said. Males sustain most firework-related injuries.
Even innocuous-looking items like sparklers can cause problems. Sparklers' 1,000-degree heat could cause second- and third-degree burns, Bone said.
"We don't realize what we've handed a child," he said. "We've handed them something that is burning at 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, or if they are the old type, I can guarantee you they burn at 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit."
Some sparklers do not light easily, or only burn halfway. Children may try to relight them or discard them, causing burns or fires.
Proper disposal of fireworks is important.
"One of the most dangerous things is to leave fireworks after they are used or toss them in a garbage can," Bone said.
Fireworks should be doused in water after they are used to make sure they are out and will not ignite a fire.
"Every year we respond to fires caused by legal fireworks tossed on roofs," said Provo fire chief Rod Jones.
A fire in Rock Canyon last Fourth of July cost the city $100,000 to extinguish, Jones said. The fire was caused by illegal fireworks, he said.
A large percentage of the fireworks he sees discharged are illegal, often brought from neighboring states, Jones said.
Fireworks can only be set off from three days before until three days after the Fourth of July.
- Put sandbags on either side of device to stabilize it.
- Set off one device at a time.
- Never let children play with fireworks without adult supervision.
- Never light fireworks indoors.
- Use fireworks away from anything flammable, including grass.
- Keep a bucket of water handy.
- Keep face away from device while igniting it.