With the Fourth of July comes all the requisite warnings about fireworks safety. These sometimes-legal (check your local laws) explosives can provide a rapturous end to holiday festivities and events. They can also end in emergency room bills and tragedy.
This week, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) set up a demonstration to illustrate how quickly the mishandling of fireworks can go wrong, and it looks like something out of the opening sequence in Saving Private Ryan:
These mannequins violate a number of safe practices for fireworks, including pointing them directly at the heads of friends and peering into the mouth of a mortar tube. There’s also a caution about trying to make fireworks at home, which can have roof-blasting consequences.
While the dummies in the video exhibit poor judgment, their sacrifice might help humans avoid a similar fate. According to the CPSC, 280 people end up in the emergency room per day in the month around July 4 as a result of fireworks-related mishaps. Hands and fingers make up most of the injuries (28 percent), with legs (24 percent) and eyes (19 percent) also being vulnerable. Nearly half (44 percent) of injuries are burns. All told, 12,900 people were treated for fireworks wounds in 2017 [PDF].
To avoid injury, it’s best to avoid fireworks that come wrapped in brown paper, since those are typically made for professional use only. It’s also a good idea to keep children away from sparklers, which can burn in excess of 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. (If you would not hand your child a blowtorch, it’s probably not a good idea to hand them a sparkler.) If you must light a firework, do it and then get as far away from it as possible.
The CPSC has capped consumer fireworks so that they contain no more than 50 milligrams of powder. More formidable explosives, like cherry bombs and M-80s, have been banned by the federal government. Most states allow at least some fireworks to be sold and used.
If the mannequins really wanted protection from accidents, they should have moved to Massachusetts; it’s the only state where all consumer fireworks are banned.
[h/t CBS Denver]