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Have a Blast: A Fourth of July Guide to Firework Safety


Independence Day is right around the corner, and many Eureka residents celebrate at Lion’s Park to watch the city’s annual fireworks display. Others celebrate with family and friends, hosting private fireworks extravaganzas. 


Unfortunately, the Fourth of July represents one of the busiest days of the year for emergency responders. Fireworks injuries lead to hundreds of thousands receiving care in the ER, and rogue fireworks also cause disastrous blazes. Follow these fireworks safety best practices before lighting those colorful, fiery, sparkly displays.


Table of Contents:

St. Louis County Fireworks Laws

Fireworks Safety Facts

  • Fireworks Injuries

The Hottest Firework Safety Tips for the Fourth of July

Fireworks Safety for Kids

  • Firecracker Safety

  • Sparkler Fireworks Safety Tips

  • What Are Pop-Its Fireworks?

Hosting a Fireworks Event? Clean Up the Debris!


Synopsis:

Fireworks injure thousands of people each year and result in multiple fatalities. In addition, Fourth of July is one of the busiest days for fire districts, as fireworks ignite more than 30K fires across the U.S. Following safety best practices when lighting fireworks helps decrease the incidence of injuries and property damage.


St. Louis County Fireworks Laws

As stewards of St. Louis County, we must remind the Eureka community that it is against the law to ignite fireworks even on Independence Day. All large-scale fireworks displays require a permit and proof of liability insurance. 


For residents interested in hosting a fireworks event, EFPD urges respect for county laws and mandates. Neighboring counties, including Jefferson and Franklin, allow residents to host fireworks events; consider hosting a fireworks show at a family gathering at a residence in these counties. 


Fireworks Safety Facts

When you play with fireworks, you play with fire. Not only do fireworks lead to significant and sometimes deadly injuries, but they also threaten the safety of nearby homes, structures, land, and personal property. According to 2022 statistics from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), fireworks ignited more than 31K fires and caused more than $100 million in property damage. 


Don’t Get Burned: Fireworks Injuries Across the Nation

Fireworks are not toys, and the destruction they cause upends lives. In 2023, more than 9K individuals were treated for fireworks-related injuries at emergency rooms across the country. In addition, fireworks led to the deaths of eight individuals. Burns accounted for nearly half of injuries (42 percent), and hands and fingers were the most common site of injury. 


The Hottest Firework Safety Tips for Fourth of July

When hosting an Independence Day event, an evening fireworks display creates excitement as friends and family take turns lighting fireworks. Every Fourth of July event should be safe and injury-free. EFPD wants residents to adhere to these fireworks best practices:


  1. Keep children away from fireworks. Do not allow children to light fireworks, as their reflexes might lag behind adults. 

  2. Extinguish dud fireworks, and never try to relight them. Throw water on any “dud” that does not ignite. Do NOT attempt to relight the fuse, as the firework could explode unpredictably.

  3. Keep pets indoors on Independence Day. Many animals are afraid of the loud explosions elicited by fireworks. Fearful pets may flee the property, putting them at risk for an injury or getting lost.

  4. Don’t light more than one firework at a time. While igniting 100 firecrackers in a metal trash can sounds fun, this is a bad idea that can result in rogue sparks.

  5. Keep water or a fire extinguisher nearby to eradicate any potential fire.

  6. Do not ignite fireworks while under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Fire and an altered state of mind are a dangerous (and potentially deadly) combination.


Fireworks Safety for Kids

Children should never play with or ignite fireworks. Not only do fireworks lead to thousands of injuries each year, but they also contribute to tens of thousands of fires across the country. Fireworks are not toys, and they should be handled with care by adults. 


Parents must understand that sparklers and pop-its (aka snap bangers) also are dangerous. Those pretty sparklers accounted for 700 injuries (in 2023). Sparklers are the second most dangerous fireworks; firecrackers accounted for 800 injuries.


Firecracker Safety

Firecrackers might be the most dangerous type of firework because they are often misused. Many teens light hundreds of firecrackers at once for a massive explosion. Others aim firecrackers at strategic locations. 


Be safe with firecrackers. Light one at a time, and never aim fireworks at a person or a structure. Don’t lean over firecrackers or any type of fireworks. 


Sparkler Fireworks Safety Tips

Sparklers are popular with young children. These long fireworks feature a lit tip that looks like a star at the end of a magic wand. Again, these fireworks are not toys.


Do not let children hold and wave sparklers. These fireworks can lead to serious burns and injuries. Only adults should handle sparklers, or these firework sticks can be safely lit in the ground (away from dry grass or structures).


What Are Pop-Its Fireworks?

Parents might know pop-its by another name: snap bangers. These are the little tiny pods that children and adults throw to the ground for a loud snap (or pop). Pop-Its include gravel and silver fulminate (which is the explosive element). These tiny snapping pods don’t require fire, but they can still injure children and adults.


Snap bangers can lead to sparks flying back at a child. In addition, a child may accidentally ingest the pod, leading to a call to Poison Control. Never assume that Pop-Its fireworks are harmless!


Hosting a Fireworks Event? Clean Up the Debris!

For individuals hosting a fireworks event outside of St. Louis County, don’t forget to clean up the fireworks debris and mess. Many fireworks include plastic pieces and chemicals that could harm birds and wildlife if ingested.


Schedule a yard cleanup on July 5th. Give family members a garbage bag and host a post-party fireworks litter hunt. 


Have a Safe Fourth of July

Eureka Fire Protection District wishes the Eureka community a safe and fun Fourth of July. Our crews will be available at the annual fireworks display at Lion’s Park. Stop by and say “hi.” Residents enjoying an out-of-town event with a private fireworks display should remember to abide by best safety practices when igniting fireworks. Don’t let children light fireworks, secure pets indoors, keep water (or an extinguisher) nearby, only light one firework at a time, and, most importantly, never shoot off fireworks when under the influence of drugs or alcohol.


About the Author:

Eureka Fire Protection District is an EMS, Fire, and Rescue service provider located in Eureka, Missouri. Staffed with nearly one hundred volunteer and career Paramedics, EMTs, Firefighters, Junior Firefighters, and administrative teams, the department provides its local community with fire prevention, education, safety resources, and emergency relief. Eureka Fire Protection District maintains a reputation as a well-run, high-performing fire department by keeping up to date with the latest in life-saving training and technology.


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