This is the fourth July 4th holiday under a state fireworks law (House Bill 542) that allows many residents to legally shoot off bigger, louder and more dangerous fireworks displays than have been allowed for the last 80-plus years. The change has brought with it a significant increase in the number of fireworks injuries.
Allentown ordinance restricts the use of fireworks within 150 feet of an occupied structure. That makes them illegal pretty much everywhere within city limits. And this year, The Allentown Police Department has announced more patrols in response to noise and safety concerns. Other Lehigh Valley municipalities are also cracking down.
Serious Risk of Harm
The weeks around Independence Day see the most fireworks injuries each year. On average, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 180 people go to the emergency room with fireworks-related injuries every day in the month around the July 4th holiday!
The figures show children and teens are most at risk. Hands and fingers top the injury list, with eyes, faces and ears coming in second. More than 50 percent of fireworks injuries are burns.
Those injury tallies don’t take into account the number of people and pets who find fireworks not just unpleasant, but terrifying. It can be a significant trigger for those with post-traumatic stress disorder.
And the Lehigh Valley Humane Society says it’s their busiest day of the year. More pets run away on July 4th than at any other time.
Play it Smart
The National Fire Protection Association suggests ditching sparklers and fireworks entirely, in favor of glow sticks, silly string, and an outdoor movie.
You could also just sit back and enjoy the shows at Coca Cola Park on Saturday; J. Birney Crum Stadium on Sunday, and all over the Lehigh Valley this weekend.
If that’s not an option, please at least follow the safety tips, below, from the Consumer Products Safety Center.
We at Lehigh County Authority wish you a safe, fun-filled Fourth of July holiday!
And please remind your guests — don’t send problems down the drain!
Fireworks and Sparklers Safety tips
- Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
- Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents often don’t realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers.
- Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
- Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
- Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
- Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
- Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
- Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
- After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.