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Where’s our app for fireworks?

By Jay MacDonald ·
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
Posted: 6 am ET

There are apps for everything these days. They help us monitor our vital signs when we work out, quickly calculate the caloric damage in a chocolate éclair before we bite in, remind us to walk the dog or change the sheets, and fill up our leisure time with divertissements from Angry Birds to Spotify.

So where's our app for Fourth of July fireworks? You know, the killer app to take the danger out of  a killer holiday tradition? Silicon Valley -- hello?

Last year's holiday toll

Last Fourth of July, fireworks killed eight of us and singed, scarred, blinded, deafened and otherwise maimed 11,400 duing our annual ritualistic reenactment of Francis Scott Key's "rocket's red glare/bombs bursting in air" line from "The Star-Spangled Banner." The number of casualties was up nearly 30 percent from the previous year, which saw "just" 8,700 fireworks-related injuries wind up in emergency rooms across the land, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Division.

Over the years, we've somehow twisted Key's lyrics into an excuse to arm ourselves, including our most vulnerable citizens, with the firepower to literally change lives. According to the CPSC, children under age 5 are at a disproportionate risk of having their holiday ruined by something as seemingly harmless as a sparkler.

"Parents should tell their children not to play with fireworks, and in particular, not to play with sparklers," advises CPSC Chairman Bob Adler. "Sparklers burn at a temperature of 2,000 degrees (F), which is roughly the temperature of a blowtorch."

Illegal fireworks bring added danger

We've also developed a dangerous national obsession with illegal "bootleg" fireworks and commercial-grade explosives, despite their annual impact on our health insurance.

Last year, 23-year-old Taron Pounds of Tulsa, Oklahoma, a third-year college student and lifelong fireworks fan, set off a 4-inch mortar at his cousin's July wedding. The blast blew the skin off the left side of his face. He spent weeks in a coma, followed by months of reconstructive procedures as surgeons removed bone and skin from his legs and chest to rebuild his face.

The Pounds family has sworn off fireworks for good.

"They are a cheap thrill and they are so dangerous," says Taron's mom, Tammy. "And people, you think, oh, it's just a sparkler. Well, it's just a sparkler until it touches you."

Safety first on the Fourth

Follow these CPSC suggestions for an injury-free Fourth:

  • Buy legal fireworks.
  • Don't let young children handle or light fireworks, including sparklers.
  • Always have adult supervision around fireworks.
  • Don't buy fireworks packaged in brown paper. They're made for professionals, not consumers.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy.
  • Don't try to relight malfunctioning fireworks.
  • Douse used fireworks in water before disposing in the trash.

Finally, should a fireworks app one day become available, please don't use it behind the wheel.

Have a safe Fourth of July out there!

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b warnock
July 04, 2014 at 4:54 pm

no bad fireworks- just STUPID people. we still have FIRE which the government has not been able to sell YET, and it is dangerous too. it BURNS people. for crying out loud people! if you don't know how to use fireworks DON'T

Rob Ness
July 04, 2014 at 12:35 am

This is bogus this is not and APP! I can make all kinds of things also idiot

July 02, 2014 at 10:44 pm

california only alows safe and sane and people still get hurt, people are stupid, i love fireworks and go to nevada to get mine, i always have a good safe time, common sence is the issue on the 4th and new years

July 02, 2014 at 3:42 pm

We're talking about fireworks here Bob...

July 02, 2014 at 11:14 am

Fireworks, firearms, if not properly use they are dangerous and fatal and should be use appropriately with adult supervision and safety in mind. There are more automobile fatalities compared to these incidents and they are require to be licensed. Proper supervision and safety are the key for a joyful experience. Someone lack of knowledge and experience shouldn't be applied to everyone.

July 02, 2014 at 10:59 am

The fireworks "app" already exists, it was developed from several earlier prototypes approximatley 55,000 years ago. It's a small, lightweight, self-adapting analog neural net, encased in a semi-hardened organic shell, mounted between the left and right ears. It's known as the COMplex MONitoring and SENSory Evaluator, or COMMON SENSE for short. Sadly, though it is provided free to each user at the start of every life, millions of people fail to bother to learn how COMMON SENSE operates, let alone how to engage the unit or even turn it on.

July 02, 2014 at 10:54 am

I like how they say "don't buy illegal fireworks". Problem is, the laws are different in each state.

What is legal in say Washington, is not necessarily legal in Oregon or California.

Reloadable mortar tubes ARE legal in some states.

My question: What were the circumstances around the guy who blew himself up? Did he follow the instructions? Was he leaning over top of the tube when he lit it? Did it malfunction? Not many facts just lots of "be afraid, be very afraid!".

July 02, 2014 at 8:31 am

Certainly fireworks have a risk factor, however if handled appropriately they are fun and rather beautiful. The question I have, is how many people in this country end dead or the ER on an annual basis courtesy of firearms? I suspect very many more than can be attributed to fireworks.