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8 weird, cool, and downright dangerous facts about fireworks for your Fourth of July.

This article originally appeared on 07.03.18


In the eyes of many Americans, the Fourth of July is a day for parades, barbecue and, of course, fireworks.

But why is it that we celebrate Independence Day with explosives?

The tradition got its start at the beginning of our nation's history after the Founding Fathers met in Philadelphia to write and sign the Declaration of Independence.


A day after the Second Continental Congress approved the declaration on July 4, 1776, John Adams — soon to be the second U.S. president — penned a letter to his wife Abigail, declaring that Independence Day "ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shews, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more."

[rebelmouse-image 19397425 dam="1" original_size="5616x3744" caption="Image by Stephanie McCabe/Unsplash." expand=1]Image by Stephanie McCabe/Unsplash.

One year later, in 1777, Philadelphia celebrated the anniversary with fireworks (which Adams dubbed "illuminations") plus a parade.

But while their American origin story is interesting, that's not all when it comes to forgotten or overlooked facts about fireworks. Before you head to the backyard barbecue to set off a few with the fam, brush up on your fireworks facts to impress your friends.

1. Currently, Americans are shooting off almost one pound of fireworks each year for every person.

This figure has grown rapidly from half a pound in 2000. In 1976, the United States' bicentennial, the figure was just one-tenth of a pound annually.

[rebelmouse-image 19397427 dam="1" original_size="568x372" caption="Image by The Conversation. Source: American Pyrotechnics Association." expand=1]Image by The Conversation. Source: American Pyrotechnics Association.

One reason for the big increase is a steady reduction in state prohibitions against individuals using fireworks.

2. Fireworks are allowed in Iowa — but they can only be exploded on the few days around the Fourth of July, Christmas, and New Year's Eve.

It's one of the more recent states to allow fireworks, but you'd better read the fine print before setting off a display in the off-season!

3. By 2016, professional displays comprised less than 10% of total fireworks usage.

Because states are now permitting individuals to purchase and possess fireworks, there has been a large shift from professional to amateur use. Back in 2000, roughly one-third of all fireworks hurled into the sky were done for professional displays, the kind that light the skies of cities around the world on holidays like New Year's Eve and national celebrations.

[rebelmouse-image 19397428 dam="1" original_size="5184x3456" caption="Photo by Ryan Wong/Unsplash." expand=1]Photo by Ryan Wong/Unsplash.

4. In 1996 it cost about $1.34 (in today's dollars) to import one pound of fireworks. By 2016 the price had fallen to just $1.17 a pound.

That also means, pound for pound, fireworks are about half the price of the frankfurters many people are grilling this Fourth.

[rebelmouse-image 19397429 dam="1" original_size="575x356" caption="Image by The Conversation. Source: American Pyrotechnics Association." expand=1]Image by The Conversation. Source: American Pyrotechnics Association.

5. Back in 1986, fireworks injured about 6.6 out of every 100,000 people. In 2008, the rate was down to 2.3 people.

Since 1986, injuries have steadily fallen as government regulations made them safer.

6. But as states have relaxed restrictions, the injuries have started increasing again. The latest figures for 2016 show a rate of 3.4 people per 100,000.

Beyond such statistics, however low, every year there are horrible stories of both children and adults being injured and killed. So it's always important to exercise caution when lighting what amounts to a low-yield missile.

[rebelmouse-image 19397430 dam="1" original_size="569x387" caption="Image by The Conversation. Source: Consumer Product Safety Commission." expand=1]Image by The Conversation. Source: Consumer Product Safety Commission.

7. Now, fireworks are required to meet higher safety standards.

One reason that injury rates have fallen in the first place is because of the federal government's Consumer Product Safety Commission. It banned the sale of the most dangerous fireworks, like M-80s and cherry bombs, in the 1960s.

Today, it is working to lower injury rates again by requiring manufacturers to adhere to higher standards. For example, faulty fuses have caused many injuries by burning either too quickly or too slowly.

Which is why ...

8. All fireworks fuses are now required to ignite three to nine seconds after being lit.

The commission also now requires fireworks to have bases that are wider and support more weight so they do not tip over and fire horizontally.

It also now bans hazardous materials like lead from the powder inside fireworks so that people downwind from the explosions don't get poisoned by breathing the smoke.

[rebelmouse-image 19397431 dam="1" original_size="568x360" caption="Image by The Conversation. Source: Consumer Product Safety Commission." expand=1]Image by The Conversation. Source: Consumer Product Safety Commission.

As more states allow fireworks this Fourth of July, millions more people celebrate by shooting off "illuminations."

But if you do plan to light a few rockets or more advanced fireworks, use some common sense, especially if children are around.

Whether you are lighting fireworks, watching them explode above you, or just hiding from the noise, try to have a fun and safe Independence Day!

Jay L. Zagorsky is an economist and research scientist at Ohio State University. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Update 7/5/2018: The previous version of this story was altered as to fireworks laws that had changed since it's first original publication.

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All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

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