If any month screams summer, it’s July: amusement parks, baseball, beaches, outdoor concerts, parades, picnics — and along with July 4th celebrations, fireworks.
Fireworks light up the sky with a spectacular view. But these figures should give you pause: The most recent figures from the Consumer Product Safety Commission say that U.S. emergency rooms saw almost 13,000 fireworks-related injuries in 2017. Children younger than 15 years old accounted for 36 percent of those injuries. Fireworks also start roughly 18,500 fires each year, according to the National Fire Protection Association. And before you think sparklers are safe (they can burn as hot as 2,000 degrees to melt some metals), fireworks burns, in general, were the most common injury to arms, fingers, and hands.
Not all fireworks are legal. Many states prohibit their use. The biggest danger from fireworks is the amateur who might handle them (not only children, but adults). It doesn’t matter whether it’s a “little” firecracker, a large Roman candle, or a sparkler that can ignite clothing or skin, there’s no place for fireworks in a family’s backyard, or on a neighborhood road. They put people and property at risk.
Whether it’s Independence Day (or a send-off from a wedding reception), fireworks can not only injure with severe bruises, burns, cuts, and blinding debris. They can also be deadly.
Here are a few tips to stay safe when enjoying one of America’s favorite pastimes:
- Don’t handle fireworks at all (and never while drinking, or on drugs). Leave fireworks displays to the professionals. Even if they’re legal in your area, why chance someone getting hurt? It’s safer to grab a blanket or lawn chair with family and friends to enjoy a professional show, than to spend a night in the emergency room.
- Enjoy fireworks from a safe distance. Pay attention to safety notices, and obey them. Be careful of any flying ash in the air. Consider bringing safety glasses with you, if you end up being closer than ideal.
- Keep a careful watch on kids at all times!
- Don’t try to re-light fireworks that fizzle out.
- Soak unused fireworks in water for a few hours, before throwing them away.
- Keep a bucket of water handy in case of fire.
- In case of an eye injury: Don’t rub. (You might increase bleeding or make it worse.) Don’t rinse. (You could cause more damage.) Don’t apply pressure. (You could add more bacteria.)
- In case of a severe burn: Elevate the burned area. Remove anything tight (like a belt). Cover the area with a cool, moist bandage or clean cloth. Watch for signs of shock (fainting, paleness, shallow breathing).
- With any fireworks injury, call 9-1-1.
By Lisa Miceli Feliciano