Today, fireworks are used to celebrate special occasions all over the world. The very first fireworks are quite simple. They didn’t do much, they simply produce a loud sound. Now, fireworks have evolved remarkably. We can now see fireworks in various colors, shapes, and sounds.
The Humble Beginning of Fireworks
It is actually unknown how fireworks were invented. However, most experts claim that they were invented by an unknown Chinese inventor more than 2,000 years ago. Although some argue that fireworks originally came from the Middle East or India.
According to the American Pyrotechnics Safety and Education Foundation, fireworks began in China around the second century B.C. Green bamboos were used in China for their religious ceremonies. They started throwing these bamboo stalks into the fire. However, they did not expect that the bamboo will create a loud sound when they get burned. They believed that this explosion can drove the evil spirits away. That is why, they used them for celebrations to ward off the evil spirits.
Legend has it that a Chinese alchemist discovered how to create a crude gun powder by combining saltpeter, sulfur, and charcoal together. This gunpowder was then filled in paper tubes with fuses made from tissue paper. These were the very first firecrackers created by the Chinese. People use them to commemorate the most important events in their lives such as a birth, a wedding, holidays, and other special celebrations.
Ultimately, in Europe fireworks were used to honor military victories as well as in other special celebrations and religious ceremonies. People in the USA also learned how to use fireworks during national holidays, sporting events, and other special events. However, the biggest celebration is still the Fourth of July.
We usually use fireworks to celebrate special occasions. Fireworks can spice up a particular event to make it more extraordinary. So, when do we use fireworks? Here, we will provide you some of the most popular occasions where fireworks are needed.
Independence Day in the USA
On the 4th of July every year, Americans celebrate their Independence Day. This is the time when fireworks are used by lots of people in the United States to commemorate their independence from the British Empire. Various types of fireworks can be seen exploding in the skies from different parts of the USA. Aside from fireworks, Independence Day is usually celebrated with barbecues, picnics, parades, fairs, etc. The Fourth of July holiday is the perfect time for families and friends to gather together and enjoy backyard barbeques or cookouts. Some may even host pool parties at their homes. During this holiday, most Americans will be igniting their fireworks. That is why the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reminds people to celebrate safely when lighting their fireworks.
New Year’s Eve
Traditionally, New Year’s Eve is celebrated every last day of December. At midnight, people all over the world will light up their fireworks.
Chinese New Year
Chinese usually celebrate their Chinese New Year during the first weekend of February. During this time enormous red and yellow fireworks are displayed all over the sky. Streets are filled with dancing dragons.
Also known as the ‘Festival of Lights’, this holiday is celebrated in India as well as in other Indian communities all over the world. This festival is usually held between October and November every year. To ward off evil spirits, they create bonfires and left candles outside their homes.
Eid Al Adha
This is a Muslim celebration which signifies the end of Ramadan. During this celebration, various types of fireworks are displayed worldwide. However, the best fireworks display can be seen in Dubai.
What You Need to Know About Fireworks
Do you know that fireworks burn can reach 1.000 degrees Fahrenheit and even more? Safety precautions must be observed when using fireworks to prevent serious burns and other types of injuries which can led to hospitalizations and eventually surgeries. Some serious injuries can even end up in major scars or amputation of the hand.
Recommended Fireworks Safety Tips
Always keep in mind that fireworks can be very dangerous since it can cause serious burns and injuries. However, there are effective ways that can help you in preventing these fatal injuries and even deaths that are caused by fireworks. It would be great if you can work with your local organization so you can help in promoting these fireworks safety tips in your community. According to the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, in 2016, there were around 1,300 people who suffered from hand and finger injuries caused by sparklers. Overall, there were 11,000 incidents of fireworks injuries reported during this year. These mishaps can be prevented by following these safety tips. Here are some safety guidelines from the National Safety Council.
- Obey laws.
Since you are enthusiastic in using fireworks to celebrate a special occasion, then it is very important that you are willing to follow all laws regarding the use of fireworks.
- Try to get to know your fireworks.
If it is the first time that you’ve used this kind of firework, then be sure to read all the information regarding this. Read the labels carefully. Be sure to know how to use them before lighting them.
- Be responsible.
Children should not be trusted with any kind of fireworks. As an adult, you should take the responsibility in overseeing all the firework activities. Never allow your kids to play with fireworks. You should be the one who will ignite them, not your children. Parents should be aware that there are so many children who get injured from sparklers. Sparklers are a certain kind of firework which can burn at a high temperature of around 2,000 degrees. This is so hot that it can even melt some metals.
- Avoid any alcohol.
When you are using fireworks, you should abstain yourself from drinking any alcohol in order to prevent any adverse incidents. Reserve your alcohol after the fireworks display.
- Keep yourself safe always.
Before you light your fireworks, be sure to wear safety glasses, just a precaution. Do not light several fireworks at the same time. Just do it one by one. After lighting them, move quickly away from your firework. Never lit your fireworks inside a metal or glass container. Do not hold a firework in your hand if it’s not meant to be held. As a safety measure, always keep a bucket of water or a garden hose near you, so you will be ready in case any accidents might occur.
- Use fireworks outdoors.
Fireworks should only be used outside the house. This area must not be close to any vehicles or buildings. When using fireworks, you should not point or throw them at another person.
- Dispose used fireworks and flop fireworks properly.
Sometimes we have the desire to relight a failed firework. Keep in mind that this is very dangerous. Get rid of them properly by soaking them in water. But don’t soak them right away, try to wait for 20 minutes. Used fireworks should be splashed with water and thrown in a metal trash can which is far away from any vehicles or buildings. Keep it there until the next day. This is a precaution to prevent any fires.
- Only use established fireworks.
Avoid using any homemade fireworks. Only use the ones which are recommended by proper authorities. Before buying your fireworks, always check if you can legally use them in your area. This is very alarming. If there are people in your community which are using illegal fireworks such as M-80s and quarter sticks, then you should report them right away to the fire or police department.
- Never carry or transport any fireworks.
Fireworks should not be kept in your pocket or bag at all times. In fact, FAA regulations restrict travelers to carry any type of fireworks in their checked baggage or carry-on luggage. They even prohibit them to send fireworks via mail or parcel services. Anyone who violates these rules may face the consequence of paying fines or facing criminal charges.
- Don’t purchase fireworks which are for professional displays.
Be sure to ask the dealer if the fireworks that you purchase are safe to use for consumers. Most often fireworks for professional shows are packed in brown paper.
What Fireworks are Legal to Use
Summer is the time when most people are enjoying themselves. This is the time when families and friends gather together and enjoy their barbecues and watch parades and fireworks displays. However, this is also the time when there are lots of visits to emergency rooms, most especially during the month of July.
According to CPSC, in 2017 eight people have died and around 12,900 were injured due to fireworks mishaps. These fireworks victims range from the age of four to fifty-seven. Most of these fireworks victims are beginners who are trying to use homemade or illegal fireworks. However, there are also incidents which involve the use of less powerful fireworks such as small firecrackers and sparklers.
Aside from fireworks injuries, there are also a lot of fires that occurred during the 4th July, according to the National Fire Protection Association. On the average, fireworks have caused damages to at least 1,300 structures, 300 vehicles and 17,000 other fire incidents which caused injuries to thousands of people. Because of this, the National Safety Council has discouraged everyone from using any types of fireworks. Instead of igniting the fireworks themselves, they could enjoy watching fireworks displays at any public places.
However, if you are really enthusiastic in lighting fireworks during the 4th of July or in any other special events, then you should only use legal fireworks. But always remember that even if these are legal, it doesn’t mean that they are safe to use.
Most often firecrackers come in one long fuse which contains several firecrackers joined together. Once you ignite one of them, they will explode in series. Even if they burst on the ground and create a very noisy sound, they can also cause burns and other fatal injuries.
This is probably one of the most popular type of fireworks. During parades and festivals, young children can be seen holding sparklers in their hands. Some parents might not be aware that these are a lot more dangerous. The truth is, sparklers can burn up to 2,000 degrees. This is so hot enough that it can even melt some metals. Everyone must be careful when holding their sparklers since it might drop on their feet and burn their clothing. A lot of children have already suffered from severe burns due to sparklers.
This is another type of fireworks which are loved by most teens. They are composed of small rockets which are affixed to a stick. Generally, they are fired from a bottle. Once the fuse is ignited, these bottle rockets will launch. Bottle rockets are quite popular among teenagers because they love playing bottle rocket wars. Avoid firing them towards another person since they can cause serious injuries in the eyes, head, chest, and other parts of the body.
Roman candles will explode numerous shells from a tube once it is ignited. This kind of fireworks will be held by hand. That is why, there are quite a few reported incidents wherein children lose their fingers or acquired severe burns and other serious injuries. Sometimes this can occur when the firework gets jammed.
What Are Some Illegal Fireworks?
M-class fireworks are something that you should avoid. We usually hear them explode almost every year. M-class fireworks include M-80s, M-100s, even M-250s, M-1000s, and cherry bombs. These apparent explosions caused by these M-class fireworks can shatter the windows of several homes. They are illegally manufactured and have no quality control. One of their main characteristics is that they only have short fuses which is why they can cause extremely severe injuries to many people.
The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives explained that these explosive devices are illegal because they do not meet the standard explosive weight limits set by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Hence, they are not fit for consumer use. Most often these illegal fireworks are only produced and used during big celebrations such as the 4th of July.
According to the federal explosives law, anyone who is interested in producing explosives must get their own license. An ATF license or permit will also allow you to store, sell or distribute explosives to anyone who do not have any license or permit.
How to distinguish illegal explosive devices?
Generally, these illegal fireworks can be distinguished by its spiral cardboard tube which comes in different colors including red, yellow, silver, salmon or brown. Other products include a green hobby fuse. Its dimension varies, but usually they are measure one to six inches long. Its diameter is one inch or more. Since they are prohibited by the law, then you cannot buy them just about anywhere. These illegal explosives can be found in non-commercial areas where there are only a few vehicles or residences. They do not issue any receipts when you buy their products. These manufacturers cannot be identified through their packaging. Hence, it will be difficult to trace their location.
What Should You Do If You Get Injured?
If your fireworks injury is very serious, then you should go to the nearest hospital and get some treatment right away. If you require a surgery, then schedule an appointment with a hand surgeon. They are experts in different injuries pertaining to the hand, fingers, wrist arm, and shoulder.