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Fireworks Safety


Fireworks Safety
John Beatty

Fire and Life Safety Educator III
Maine Fire Training and Education
Southern Maine Community College



Last year, just before school ended, I had the opportunity to talk to a group of 5th graders and their parents, about fireworks.  One of the students had brought some fire crackers to school and he and some of his friends decided to “have some fun” and light them off in the playground.  Fortunately a teacher saw this and confiscated the firecrackers before anyone was injured.  During the meeting with this group, one youngster who I will call Randy, had a little smile on his face and actually snickered at one point.  To make matters worse, his father had the same little smile.  My sense was that they both thought this was some kind of joke.


A few days before the holiday, paramedics were called to the home of an 11 year old boy with a hand injury.  It was Randy.  An M-80 had exploded before he could throw it.  His hand was mangled by the explosion and the paramedics were questioning whether two of his fingers could be saved.  Today Randy has limited use of that hand and more than likely, it won’t get any better in the years to come.


Where would an 11-year-old get such a device?  M-80 firecrackers are illegal in Maine.  How does a child get possession of such a thing, you might ask.  His Dad bought them.  Dad, the one who ‘taught’ his son about fireworks, the one who snickered when I talked to him about how dangerous fireworks are in the hands of children, is now in tears.  His son may lose his hand and he’s asking me, “Why didn’t I listen?”


As we approach this 4th of July holiday there’s a few things you might want to think about.  First, the above situation did not have to happen and yet it’s repeated in emergency rooms over and over and over again.  Second, fireworks are illegal for a reason.  Quite simply, they are dangerous.  They can maim or even kill those who mean the most to us – our family or even ourselves. 


Fireworks displays are wonderful to watch.   They are displayed by licensed pyro-technicians who are required to adhere to some extremely tight safety rules.  Enjoy them.  Take advantage of the displays in your community.  But if you choose to do your own, you may be comforted to know that some very good hand and eye surgeons will be on duty this weekend, and you may get to meet them.