Dec 31, 2012

How To Set Off New Years Fireworks Without Losing a Hand

Every occasion is a good occasion for fireworks—The 4th of July, New Year's Eve, New Year's Day, Guy Fawkes Day, Chinese New Year, your birthday, your anniversary, a home run, a touchdown, graduation, Tuesday... Unfortunately, such an abundance of occasions also resulted in more than 8,000 fireworks-related injuries in 2011. Four of them fatal. Here's how to properly handle your celebratory explosives without hosting the after party in the ER.

Only purchase fireworks from reputable, licensed retailers as they, by default, carry products that meet government safety standards. Per the US Consumer Product Safety Commission,
CPSC staff received reports of four fireworks-related deaths during 2011. In the first incident, a 31-year-old male died of substantial head and chest trauma caused by an illegal 1.3G aerial firework device.1 In the second incident, a 47-year-old male perished when a 1.3G illegal 3-inch display firework device exploded in his face. In the third incident, a 41-year-old male was decapitated by an illegal firework device. A 51-year-old male died of severe head and face injuries caused by a homemade firework device in the fourth incident.
Also avoid buying last season's close-outs, no matter how big the discount. Older fireworks are more likely to ignite improperly (read: in your hand), if they do so at all.

As such, you should try to store your fireworks somewhere cool and dry and preferably not near other fireworks. The elevated temperatures inside, say, a car trunk in July or next to your home furnace, could potentially cause spontaneous ignition. And if one firework goes off in a big box of fireworks, all of them will go off, so be smart and store them in smaller piles around the house.

Exposure to small amounts of moisture, on the other hand, can prevent a firework from fully igniting. If you do find yourself faced with a half-exploded firework, don't go near it and certainly don't be "that guy"—the one that tries to relight it and blows his face off in the delayed explosion. Instead, douse it with water to ensure its dead, then retrieve it.

Also, do not carry fireworks in your pockets. They are surprisingly fragile devices that can easily be damaged while tumbling about with your keys and loose change. What's more, the static electricity you generate just by walking around could cause a spark. And despite what MTV says, having a firework conflagrate against your leg is neither fun nor profitable.

So, where to set up. Well, somewhere open and nonflammable should suffice, perhaps on a green lawn or spacious concrete driveway—basically anywhere that won't immediately go up like Southern California in August if it's showered in sparks. The site should be as level as possible and, if your locality allows for small rockets, equipped with a short length of pipe half-sunken into the ground to act as a stable launch platform.

Despite all your best laid plans, somebody is invariably going to get hurt, hopefully only superficially. Make sure you've got a proper first aid kid—clean water, bandages, and ice—on hand, as well as someone sober to drive to the ER if necessary. Minor burns (first and second degree injuries under 3 inches in diameter) should be placed under cool running water for 15 minutes, then loosely wrapped in medical gauze. Apply aloe vera or hydrocortisone cream to the afflicted area and take a couple of aspirin for the pain. Any burns over 3 inches or on the face, eye, groin, buttocks, hands, feet, or joints dictate a trip to the hospital or a call to 911 depending on the severity of the damage. More here.


Ken Lynch said...

You forgot Canadian Thanksgiving.
Blowing hands off: that would cripple the gloves industry for sure.

YeamieWaffles said...

Great advice man haha, hope you have a good 2012.