When I was a kid, every year we would celebrate the 4th of July on our family property in the middle of nowhere. The property was surrounded by cow pastures and there was no one to complain if we made any noise. I remember my uncles setting off huge firework shows and the kids running around chasing each other with lit sparklers.
It’s a wonder we survived.
Now that I am an adult with small people whose safety and well-being are my responsibility, things have changed. I still like to have fun with my family on the 4th of July but I am much more conscious of the safety risks now and try to keep them in mind when my family is celebrating.
Did you know that, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), approximately 18,500 fires each year are started by fireworks and about 1 in 4 of those fires are started on July 4th? Also, children aged 5-9 are more than twice as likely as other age groups to be injured by fireworks. It’s no wonder when you find out that those sparklers that you ran around with as a kid can burn at temperatures up to 1200 degrees Fahrenheit! To put that in perspective, glass can melt at 900 degrees. And we hand these to small children???
This is precisely the reason why my family attends one of the professional shows that is held around town and it’s what the NFPA recommends that everyone do. Honestly, the shows that the professionals put on around town are so much better than anything I could do that the sacrifice I make of not allowing my kids to run around with burn hazards in the backyard is very small.
Now, I know what you are thinking “Fine, I won’t give anything to my kids. I will only allow adults to light fireworks.” Adults are at risk as well. In 2015, Jason Pierre-Paul, who played defensive end for the New York Giants and now plays for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was lighting fireworks at his home in Deerfield Beach, Florida on the 4th of July. He attempted to relight a dud firework and the firework exploded in his hand. He had some of the best medical care in the world and still ended up with a mangled right hand, including an amputated index finger. He could have lost his NFL career and, even worse, his life. After the injury, he teamed up with the Consumer Products Safety Commission to film a PSA about fireworks safety. It’s definitely worth a view. For me, the risks to all the people I love are too great to take a chance on lighting fireworks at home. Plus, there are so many great shows around town…shows that I could never duplicate in my backyard with bottle rockets and roman candles!
Another time-honored summer tradition is backyard barbeques and grilling. I don’t think anything tastes better than food cooked outdoors on the grill but making sure to keep proper safety procedures in place is critical. The NFPA states that an average of 16,500 patients a year go to the emergency room because of injuries involving grills and children under five account for an average of 1,600 thermal (non-fire) grill burns. These types of burns typically occur when someone gets bumped into or touches a part of the grill that’s hot. Children and pets should stay at least three feet away from the grill area and your grill should never be left unattended.