July 4th will be here soon, which means you’ll likely start hearing fireworks popping and cracking in the evening if you haven’t already. While fireworks are synonymous with patriotism and celebration, they can cause more harm than fun when not handled by the professionals.
In many states, cities, and counties, fireworks are illegal. In our home state of Colorado, fireworks are totally illegal in many of the bigger cities, including Denver, Fort Collins, and Lakewood. Firework bans and strict enforcement doesn’t make you the fun police, rather it ensures members of your community celebrates this holiday without unnecessary injuries, fires, and issues.
Real Dangers of Fireworks
Every year there are stories on the news about people getting seriously injured by fireworks they purchased on their own. The danger is real, as firework mishaps led to eight deaths and 12,900 injuries in the U.S. in 2017. An average of 280 people go to the emergency room every day with firework-related injuries around July 4th, and more than 53% of these injuries are burns. According to a 2013 report from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA):
- Fireworks caused an estimated 15,600 fires in the U.S., including 1,400 structure fires and 200 vehicle fires
- Almost half of the reported fires on Independence Day were started by fireworks
- 35% of people seen in emergency rooms for firework injuries were under the age of 15
Even fireworks commonly viewed as "kid friendly", like sparklers, present danger. The above mentioned report states that 28% of emergency room visits for firework-related injuries were due to sparklers. Sparklers burn at a temperature of 2,000, which is hot enough to melt some types of metal. That’s definitely not something you want to put into the hands of a child.
Educate Residents on Risks and Rules
Many people don’t understand the true risks fireworks present, whether that be severe injuries and uncontrollable fires. That’s why it’s important to take time now to start educating residents on the risks of firework usage. Share the stats above in your digital bulletin or community newsletter. Research local laws and educate residents on the consequences of being caught using illegal fireworks. In Colorado, the consequences of possessing and using illegal fireworks range from a $50 fine to over $1,000 and up to a year in jail. Few people can claim that 15-seconds of a Roman candle is worth jail time.
To help with enforcement and discourage usage, it’s recommended that your community develop additional fines and regulations. For example, you can enforce a $100 fine for using fireworks, as well as letting residents know that police will be called anytime fireworks are set off in the community. When letting residents know about this, it’s important to remind them too of the danger of fires, and how that puts the community, residents, their families, and belongings at risk. No one wants the eyesore of a charred patch of grass in the community park or firework debris falling in the backyard where kids play.
Provide Fun Alternatives
Not using fireworks doesn’t mean you have to miss out on celebrating the 4th! We recommend researching local professional firework shows and sharing this information with residents. You can also consider hosting community-wide, family-friendly events to keep everyone occupied the day of the 4th. Ideas include:
- Pool party with fun games for the kids
- Community BBQ and hot dog eating contest
- Neighborhood parade
- Movie in the park
For other way to keep you community and residents thriving, download our free six-step guide!