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Wind speed and fuses cause many firework injuries

It was a windy Independence Day in 2015 when Jason Pierre-Paul, the star defensive end for the New York Giants, attempted to light one last rocket for the entertainment of friends and family.

He tried once to light the fuse, but the wind blew it out. Then again, and again, after seven tries the fuse lit. And it blew. He can't recall whether the firework was still in his right hand, but when the explosion cleared, his hand was profoundly disfigured, nearly blown off.

Among all the dangers of lighting fireworks, two are notable. First, a fuse that burns faster than expected and, second, wind.

Each fireworks has a fuse that ideally burns slowly enough for the person to get away. This fuse is linked to the lifting charge, made of choppy gun powder, also called black powder. You light it, you get away. The experience of Jason Pierre-Paul tells why you never light it a second time.

In many instances, the fuse actually could be burning. A smoldering fuse might be not immediately obvious, especially in windy conditions. But if you approach the charge a second time, you are risking grave injury or death. That's why you should never try to light a firework twice. Instead, wet it thoroughly with a hose or bucket of water.

Many fireworks accidents occur because a fuse burns faster than expected.

Windy conditions are not safe for fireworks. Wind speed and direction can severely affect not just the fuse lighting, but where the shell and debris end up. A 2004 study found that a three-inch shell could end up 197 feet downwind if launched in 20 mph winds, according to the Washington Post.

Professional pyrotechnicians take wind speed into consideration, as well as fuse burn time. But amateurs rarely have the knowledge to do this.

Leave the fireworks to the pros. It just isn't worth losing a hand, your sight or your life.

This story was posted on 2022-07-04 10:45:53
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