Aah, that mysterious golden trail of the sparkler making shapes in the summer night air…
The charcoal magic of the black pill that bubbles into a hissing snake…
The enchanting pastel cloud of smoke bomb …
Charming as this iconic page of our Independence Day memory book may be, personal fireworks can be a real dud. That sparkler we’re handing our preschooler is burning at more than 1,000 degrees.
"Fireworks are dangerous and unpredictable, especially in the hands of amateurs," said Judy Comoletti, with the National Fire Prevention Association. "The few seconds of pleasure those fireworks may bring are not worth the risk of injury, permanent scarring or even death."
The association urges everyone to treat all fireworks as pyrotechnics, safe only in the hands of trained professionals. Fireworks, from sparklers to aerial rockets, cause thousands of fires and serious injuries each year, including permanent scarring, loss of vision and dismemberment.
"Safe and sane fireworks don't exist," said Dr. John Hall, the association's division manager of fire analysis and research. "When things go wrong with fireworks, they go very wrong, very fast, far faster than any fire protection provisions can reliably respond."
Fireworks-related fires are to blame for at least $20 million in property loss every year. Bottle rockets are the chief culprit. Rockets land on rooftops or wedge in buildings, silently smoldering until they spark a fire.
"For most people, their family and their home represent the hard work of a lifetime and their hopes for the future," Hall said. "No one would risk losing what's most important to them if they understood the dangers of fireworks. There are safer alternatives to using fireworks on the Fourth of July."
Public fireworks displays are the answer, fire safety experts say. Conducted by trained professionals, today’s fireworks shows, often choreographed to music, are the best entertainment bang for your buck.
What will you do the Fourth of July? Do you think the tradition of personal fireworks is fizzling out? Have you let your kids hold sparklers or light up snakes?
Are you bothered by people who bring their own fireworks to public displays? How much, if any, will your family spend on fireworks this Independence Day? Do you know anyone who has been injured by fireworks?