Demand for Fourth of July fireworks increases risks for burns

For many Americans, the Fourth of July won't be about big festivities but setting off fireworks themselves. Hundreds of cities and towns have canceled shows Saturday because of the coronavirus pandemic, and sales of consumer fireworks are booming; though officials are concerned about fires and injuries with more pyrotechnics going off in backyards and at block parties. (AP Photo/Ben Margot) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. – There was a long line of customers at a fireworks store on Friday afternoon in Dania Beach. And with more people buying their own fireworks, Fourth of July celebrations could be riskier this year.

A need for social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic prompted many fireworks shows to be canceled in both Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Experts fear the fireworks at small neighborhood parties could mean more burns than usual.

“The general public is buying more than ever before,” Steve Houser, president of the National Fireworks Association told the Associated Press.

Dr. Erin Miller, a hand surgeon at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, said she amputated 42 fingers due to fireworks injuries last year while she was on call during the Fourth of July.

She has simple advice for revelers: Do not use larger fireworks like mortars and cherry bombs.

“Do not mix alcohol or any other substances if you’re choosing to use fireworks,” she added.

But not everyone is as alarmed by the increased interest in consumer fireworks.

“It’s business as usual for us,” said Chris James, a spokesman for the Glendale Fire Department.

The agency will have extra units on standby like usual for the holiday, he said. He recommends having water and a fire extinguisher nearby.

“It’s basic common sense we try to preach,” James said.

Fire departments and many sellers also urge people to have a sober “designated shooter,” said Houser of the National Fireworks Association.

Some in the industry believe monthslong lockdowns during the pandemic explain the increased interest in blowing off steam with fireworks.

“We’ve all been cooped up at home. We all have a lot of added stresses,” said James Fuller, a spokesman for TNT Fireworks. “I think a lot of folks want to feel good again.”

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