In the excitement of the holiday, don’t underestimate the danger of personal-use fireworks. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in the 30 days surrounding the 4th of July last year, over 5,000 people spent time in the emergency room being treated for injuries caused by fireworks. The most common being burns and eye injuries caused by fireworks that do not fly or explode.
Even sparklers can reach 1800 degrees Fahrenheit (hot enough to melt gold), and according to Prevent Blindness America, are the second leading cause of fireworks injuries requiring trips to the emergency room.
The best way to protect your family is to avoid lighting fireworks. Children should never play with fireworks. If your older children are not celebrating with you, advise them of the dangers as well. Consult with local authorities; if fireworks are not legal where you live, do not use them.
If fireworks are legal where you live and you are considering the use of fireworks in private festivities, keep these safety tips in mind:
- Use fireworks outside, and only as intended. Never try to make your own fireworks, and only buy legal fireworks from an authorized dealer.
- Stay clear of other people, bushes, leaves, homes and flammable substances. Teach children and remind spectators to maintain a safe distance, and stop, drop, and roll if their clothes catch on fire.
- Always wear eye protection and have a bucket of water and hose nearby.
- Don’t hold fireworks in your hand or have any part of your body over them while lighting.
- Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
- Do not allow children to pick up pieces of fireworks after they have been used. Some may still be hot that could still ignite and explode at any time. After they have cooled, collect all pieces of fireworks or those that are not going to be used and soak them in a bucket of water before throwing them in the trash can.
If someone has experienced a severe burn from a firework, remove clothing from the area and run cool, not cold, water over the burn (do not use ice). Call your doctor immediately or go to the hospital. If an eye injury occurs, do not touch or rub it, as this may cause even more damage. Also, don’t flush the eye out with water or attempt to put any ointment on it. Instead, cut out the bottom of a paper cup, place it around the eye, and immediately seek medical attention — the victim’s eyesight may depend on it.
Taking these precautions into consideration can help ensure a happy and safe Fourth of July holiday. The safest fireworks are those for public display put on by professionals. Check your local newspaper to find locations near you.
Sources: National Council on Firework Safety, Prevent Blindness America, US Consumer Product Safety Commission, Kidshealth.org, LifeWork Strategies EAP, and Washington and Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Centers. For medical advice, consult your physician.