6 simple things you can do to stay safe around fireworks this Fourth of July.

We all know fireworks can be a lot of fun, but they can also be really dangerous (like really, really dangerous).

In 2016, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (USCPSC), four people died as the result of fireworks-related injuries in the U.S., and around 11,100 people were injured.

Luckily, the USCPSC has a number of helpful resources on their website for avoiding injury, as well videos demonstrating how to safely use fireworks. They even have a PSA from New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, a star football player who lost his right index finger to a fireworks accident in 2015.


Here are six easy steps you can take to greatly reduce your chance of injury, while still being able to have fireworks fun this summer.

1. Never let children light fireworks and have them keep a safe distance from any explosives.

Children under the age of 15 made up 31% of all fireworks-related injuries in 2016. Even sparklers can be dangerous, burning at around 2,000 degrees!

All GIFs from USCPSC/YouTube.

2. Never try to re-light fireworks that didn't go off.

Sometimes a dud isn't actually a dud. Even if it was just a case of the fuse fizzling out before it reached the end, there's a reason it's as long as it is to begin with: to give you enough time to get a safe distance away. Lighting a short fuse is a bad idea. Douse the firework with water and move on.

3. Don't point fireworks at other people, and make sure there's nothing in their flight path before igniting the fuse.

Roman candles, bottle rockets, and other smaller explosives are no exception. These can all cause some pretty significant injuries.

4. Keep a hose and a bucket of water nearby, and be sure to douse all spent fireworks in water after they're done burning.

After your fireworks are spent, hit them with a quick blast of water to neutralize any residual explosive powder. And since you're working with fire anyway, the hose and bucket are good to have on hand in case something goes wrong.

5. Don't set off fireworks in metal or glass containers.

If flying shards of glass and metal shrapnel aren't welcome editions to your Fourth of July festivities, it's probably best not to use empty bottles or metal containers as makeshift launchpads.

6. Most importantly, leave the professional fireworks to the professionals.

Following the guidelines in the five tips above will ensure safety for you and your family while lighting bottle rockets, sparklers, Roman candles, smoke bombs, and firecrackers. When it comes to the bigger shows and sky-high fireworks, however, the absolute best thing you can do is to leave it up to the pros.

Pack some snacks, a blanket or a few lawn chairs, and check out your local news or government website to find out where the nearest fireworks display is happening.

Because, to paraphrase "The Simpsons," what better way to celebrate the independence of your nation than to blow up a small part of it?

Check out this 2017 video from the USCPSC for more useful tips about fireworks safety. (Additional videos from 2015 and 2016 can be found on the organization's YouTube page.)

Researchers at Harvard University have studied the connection between spanking and kids' brain development for the first time, and their findings echo what studies have indicated for years: Spanking isn't good for children.

Comments on this article will no doubt be filled with people who a) say they were spanked and "turned out fine" or b) say that the reason kids are [fill in the blank with some societal ill] these days are because they aren't spanked. However, a growing body of research points to spanking creating more problems than it solves.

"We know that children whose families use corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence," said Katie A. McLaughlin, director of the Stress & Development Lab in the Department of Psychology, and the senior researcher on the study which was published Friday in the journal Child Development. "In this study, we wanted to examine whether there was an impact of spanking at a neurobiological level, in terms of how the brain is developing."

You can read the entire study here, but the gist is that kids' brain activity was measured using an MRI machine as they reacted to photos of actors displaying "fearful" and "neutral" faces. What researchers found was that kids who had been spanked had similar brain neural responses to fearful faces as kids who had been abused.

"There were no regions of the brain where activation to fearful relative to neutral faces differed between children who were abused and children who were spanked," the authors wrote in a statement.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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