13 Fascinating Things You Never Knew About Fireworks
Fascinating behind-the-scenes facts about a Fourth of July fireworks display will help you see this annual feast for the eyes in a whole new light.
It’s not uncommon to see people in shorts and flip-flops lighting bottle rockets or waving sparklers, but the pros wear safer attire when working with commercial fireworks. “Fireworks are sensitive to impact, friction, and static electricity. All fireworkers are taught to wear non-synthetic clothes and to use safety glasses,” says Creagan. “While most modern shows are electrically fired, there are still hand lit shows being done. If hand-lighting a show, the crew must wear appropriate gear similar to a firefighter’s safety gear, complete with helmet and face shield.” As you can imagine, donning this type of gear gets pretty toasty in hot weather, which is why heat exhaustion can be a problem for fireworkers.
The ouch factor
According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission Fireworks Information Center, an average of 250 people go to the emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries around the July 4th holiday. Those seemingly innocent sparklers can burn at temperatures up to 2,000 degrees, which is hot enough to melt some metals. In fact, injuries from sparklers were the cause of 900 ER-treated injuries in 2017, and bottle rockets caused 400 ER-treated injuries. According to the Fireworks Alliance, one way to protect yourself is to wear the right attire—cotton or denim clothing, long pants, eye protection, covered shoes, and also ear protection if your fireworks have a loud boom factor.
What happens to a firework once it explodes? Creagan explains: “Fireworks are paper paste, string, and the burning component. After a firework expends itself, the remaining debris is biodegradable paper and a small amount of carbon. According to Smithsonianmag.com, the U.S. Army Pyrotechnics Technology and Prototyping Division have found some alternatives that are more environmentally friendly. Although these alternatives are earmarked for military use, they could be applied to civilian fireworks in the future. The hurdle is making these fireworks as inexpensive as the commercial offerings currently used. Next, find out the 20 things you didn’t know about the Fourth of July.