HealthONE - July 01, 2019

Now that warm weather has settled in and the Fourth of July is almost here, it's time to create some fun summer memories! But, before you and your family start to celebrate, you will want to make sure everyone is educated on fireworks safety.

Without proper handling of fireworks, there are many dangers to be aware of, including eye injuries and severe burns. The safest way to prevent such injuries is not set off any fireworks at your home. Instead, attend public fireworks shows and let the professionals handle it.

Setting off fireworks outside your home may or may not be legal were you live, but you will want to check each Fourth of July season with your local police and fire departments. And, if they are legal where you plan on celebrating, please review these safety tips:

  • Children should never play with fireworks. Handling sparklers, rockets, fountains and firecrackers are too dangerous. If you give children sparklers, make sure they understand that they need to keep the sparklers away from their face, hair and clothing, as well as others. Pets are also in danger of being harmed. Keep sparklers away from them. Sparklers can get very hot, even as high as 1,800 degrees (982 degrees C), which is hot enough to melt gold.
    “Use glow sticks instead of sparklers for kids. They can be fun without the dangers,” adds Jason Martin, injury prevention coordinator at Swedish Medical Center.
  • Only purchase legal fireworks. Fireworks that are legal should have a label with the manufacturer's name and directions. Illegal fireworks usually have no label. Be sure to store all fireworks in a cool, dry environment. Fireworks that are illegal, such as the M-80 or M100 are explosives that were banned back in 1996, but due to the dangerous nature of these fireworks, still account for a lot of injuries, and even deaths, each year.
    • Do not try to make your own fireworks.
    • Never set off fireworks inside (home, garage, building, etc.) or under a carport. Always set them off outside. Make sure that you have a full water bucket and a working garden hose nearby.
    • Stay a safe distance from others – fireworks have a long history of shooting off in an unexpected direction or backfiring. Never toss or point fireworks in the general direction of someone else.
    • Never hold fireworks in your hand. Make sure that no part of your body or clothing are hanging over fireworks that you are getting ready to set off. Always wear some type of eye protection. Do not carry fireworks in your pockets because the friction could cause them to ignite and cause serious harm to yourself and others.
    • Never point fireworks at homes, buildings, structures. Keep the away from brushes, leaves, and any potentially flammable substances. The National Fire Protection Association estimates that local fire and rescue departments respond to over 50,000 fireworks related calls per year.
    • Only light one firework at a time. Do not light them from within glass or metal containers. And, never try to relight a dud because those have a high rate or exploding.
    • Never allow children to pick up the remaining fragments from fireworks afterward. Some of them could still reignite and explode at any time. Always make sure the fireworks have cooled off completely before attempting to move them.
    • Wet down all fireworks with a bucket of water or garden hose before disposing of them
    • Always consider pets. Animals are especially sensitive to loud noises and flashing lights. They can become extremely afraid and stressed. Keep your pets inside to reduce the risk that could become injured.

Should someone get injured by fireworks, immediately get to a healthcare professional at a hospital or clinic. If there is an injury to an eye, never allow the injured individual to rub or touch it because this could cause even more damage. Also, avoid trying to flush out the eye with water and do not attempt to put any kind of ointment on it. Here is what you should do: cut out the bottom of a paper cup and place it around the eye, them seek immediate medical attention. The individual's eyesight may depend on it. If the injury is a burn, remove clothing from the area that is burned, and place cool, but not cold water, on the burned area. (Never use ice). Call your healthcare professional immediately.

The Fourth of July celebration and fireworks were meant for you and your families enjoyment! But, you will enjoy the holiday more if you or your family does not have to visit a local hospital. So, keep in mind these safety tips, and have a celebration that is truly enjoyable!