Sparklers, firecrackers and Roman candles are a traditional part of Fourth of July and Independence Day celebrations and gatherings. But fireworks also are dangerous explosives that cause millions of dollars in property damage and nearly 10,000 emergency room visits nationally each year. Fireworks also are illegal in many counties, including Oneida.
“Every year, we see an uptick in injuries caused by fireworks,” said Randy Sutherland, Kunkel Ambulance director of operations. “Emergency rooms are flooded with fireworks injuries, including burns on the arms and face, scarring, ear trauma, eye injuries and even in rare instances, loss of limb.”
Mishaps from fireworks often are due to unsafe handling or being too close to the devices. But defects, including short fuses and overcharging, also can cause injuries. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) states that a national average of 200 people are admitted daily to emergency rooms for fireworks injuries during the month-long period around July 4.
Kunkel Ambulance recommends leaving fireworks for the pros as the safest option for families this holiday weekend. Purchasing, using or storing fireworks is illegal in Oneida County. This year, New York State passed a law that lifted the ban on novelty fireworks, including sparklers, during specific time periods. Several counties opted into the new law, including Herkimer County. Before purchasing or using fireworks, check local county and municipality laws.
If operating fireworks in a legal area, follow these tips:
- Purchase fireworks from reliable distributors.
- Keep a bucket of water or garden hose nearby.
- Do not wear loose-fitting clothing.
- Alcohol and fireworks do not mix.
- Young children should never be allowed to play with fireworks of any type.
- Children under 15 are the most likely population to sustain fireworks-related injuries and should always be supervised by an adult.
- According to the CPSC, sparklers top the list of common fireworks that cause injuries. A standard sparkler can burn up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and can cause severe burns or eye injuries.
- Never open the fireworks packaging. The powder inside fireworks is highly flammable. If powder gets on skin, it can ignite, causing serious burns.
- Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks. Don’t place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse.
- Never relight or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully. Soak in water and discard them.
- Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
- Fireworks frighten animals and are a leading cause of runaway pets, especially dogs, in the summer. Do not have animals outside when igniting fireworks.
- Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
- Never carry fireworks in a pocket or ignite them in metal or glass containers.
“The safest way to enjoy fireworks this year is to take advantage of one of the many licensed, professional fireworks shows that take place in the area,” Sutherland said. “If you do decide to purchase personal fireworks, celebrate the Fourth safely and legally.”
The City of Utica and the Genesis Group of the Mohawk Valley Region will hold its annual free Fourth of July Parade, Party in Proctor Park and fireworks show. The parade and party begin at 6 p.m. in Proctor Park, with fireworks immediately following.
About Kunkel Ambulance
Since 1939, Kunkel Ambulance has provided excellent emergency and nonemergency ambulance services in the City of Utica and Oneida County in the Mohawk Valley of Upstate New York and provides mutual aid service to a large portion of Oneida and Herkimer counties. Every Kunkel ambulance is staffed with highly skilled, certified paramedics and EMTs who are trained in the latest lifesaving technology and emergency protocols.
Kunkel Ambulance is a regional branch of the national Priority Ambulance network.