4th Of July fireworks safety

Celebrating the Fourth of July with fireworks is a tradition experienced across the nation, but must be done with caution. Check with city regulations regarding restrictions on the types of fireworks that are acceptable and the times that they can be set off in your local area.

Celebrating the Fourth of July with fireworks is a tradition experienced across the nation, but must be done with caution. Check with city regulations regarding restrictions on the types of fireworks that are acceptable and the times that they can be set off in your local area. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Delano Scott/Released)

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. --

Every year, Americans celebrate Independence Day with cookouts, spending time with family and friends and watching their favorite fireworks displays.

 

While done safely, those displays lead to ‘oohs and ahs’ from the audience, but when something goes wrong, injuries can occur that lead to burns, loss of limb, or even loss of eyesight.

 

One such accident took place during a home fireworks display last year, involving a member of the 22nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. This mishap caused that individual to lose his eyesight permanently.

 

“As you can imagine this was a significant emotional event for many members of the squadron,” said Lt. Col. Brian Mix, 22nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander. “Seeing one of your own maimed in such a way hammered home the importance of safety, sound decision making and the reality that we are indeed fragile and our lives can change in an instant. On the job, the risk of serious injury hangs over the head of every maintainer. This event forced us to re-focus our dedication on fighting complacency both on and off the job and to appreciate the smaller details of life.” 

 

According to a safety review, the individual used a handheld lighter to light an unauthorized cake motor commercial firework that was not authorized in his town during the date of the incident.

 

“You hope that a mishap like this doesn’t come in because usually when fireworks are involved, it’s a serious injury,” said Staff Sgt. Cody Gerlach, 22nd Air Refueling Wing occupational safety technician. “Mishaps can range from burns to blowing a finger off, last year’s mishap is the worst that I’ve seen since it involved the individual losing his eyesight.”

 

Investigators also listed a lack of proficiency in operating fireworks, despite previous experience with them, lack of protective equipment and a lack of risk management.

 

“I’d encourage anyone participating in lighting fireworks to use sound risk management and follow the manufactures guidance,” Gerlach said. “And then of course make sure you’re wearing safety goggles and all required proper protective equipment. If it’s your first time lighting fireworks I suggest only handling fireworks you are familiar with.”

 

Here are some tips from the McConnell Safety Office for anyone thinking about lighting fireworks.


· Know the Local Laws

· Purchase only from licensed vendors

· Do not alter fireworks in any way

· Always read and follow label directions

· Use only outdoors

· Always have water readily available (i.e., a garden hose and a bucket)

· Never experiment or make your own fireworks

· Light only one firework at a time

· Never give fireworks to small children

· Store fireworks in a cool, dry place

· Never throw or point fireworks at other people

· Never carry fireworks in your pocket

· Never shoot fireworks in metal or glass containers

· The shooter should always wear eye protection and never have any part of the body over the firework

· Stay away from illegal explosives (i.e., M-80, M-100, M-250 and M-1000)

· Do not mix fireworks and alcohol

· Use a flat paved surface to launch fireworks from

· Ensure your fireworks are consumer grade, not commercial grade fireworks

· Fireworks are not allowed on base

 

For more information, contact McConnell AFB's Safety Office at (316) 759-3216 or the base Fire Department at (316) 759 - 3902.