Safety Tips for Celebrating Independence Day With Fireworks

Tonight millions of Americans will be celebrating the 4th of July with fireworks.

Fireworks can be a blast and plenty of people will be setting off their own at home, but it comes with risk.

On Sunday, paramedics were called to a home in Philadelphia when a little girl lost almost all of her fingers after an explosive blew up in her hands.

Captain Mark Burgmann with the Philadelphia Police Department said, “She had cuts and burns to her chest and torso area and to her face.”

Her father purchased the illegal device on the street believing it was a firework.

Detective Tim Brooks with the Philadelphia PD Bomb Squad warns, “They’re not fireworks in any way, shape or form. These by definition are improvised explosive devices.”

Illegal and homemade explosives are a major safety hazard. It’s one reason why about 180 people go to the emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries in the weeks around July 4th, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Many accidents happen when flying fireworks are involved, and 44% of injuries involve burns, often from sparklers.

Tim Griffin, a spokesperson for the Carmel, Indiana Fire Department, says “Those can run anywhere from 1800-2000 degrees, just setting it on a kids hand for only a moment can burn severely.”  He adds, “The problem is it just takes one time and that injury can be life altering.”

Michael Spencer knows that all too well.  Last year he told the Consumer Product Safety Commission how a mortar type explosive went off while he was holding it.

Spencer said, “Off of my left hand I lost my pinky, I lost my middle finger.”

Experts say don’t use illegal or recalled fireworks, never give them to children and it’s always safer just to watch a professional show from a distance.

Safety officials say if you are going to use fireworks keep a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby in case of fire and never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that did not ignite.