Fireworks and sparklers are commonly used in Fourth of July celebrations, but these celebrations can quickly turn to tragedy. In 2013, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 11,400 people for fireworks related injuries, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
“The good news is that these injuries are 100 percent preventable,” said Dr. William Hickerson, Medical Director at Firefighters Burn Center. “The best way to protect your family is to not use fireworks at home – period. The only safe way to enjoy fireworks is to attend an outdoor public display put on by specially trained professionals.”
Fireworks pose a serious injury risk to anyone using them, and they should not be used by children under any circumstances. Parents often do not realize the risks involved with children using or being near the use of fireworks. Sparklers, the most frequently used product by children on the Fourth of July, are among the most dangerous according to Dr. Hickerson.
“Sparklers burn at 1800 degrees Fahrenheit and produce sparkles that can cause eye injuries or catch surrounding objects on fire. Furthermore, once it quits sparkling, it stays hot for quite a while and can cause a burn if a child picks it up,” said Dr. Hickerson.
Beyond injury concerns, fireworks pose a fire risk. According to Dr. Hickerson, fireworks cause more than 20,000 fires each year that result in property damage.
The staff at Firefighters Burn Center, a full service burn center housed at Regional Medical Center, knows all too well how a life-altering burn injury can happen in a matter of seconds. Knowing and following a few safety tips will help everyone have a safe summer.
For individuals who insist on using fireworks themselves, the Burn Center offers the following tips for preventing firework injuries:
- First and foremost, if fireworks are illegal where you live, do not purchase or use them.
- Always have an adult supervise firework activities, and never allow children under 12 to play with or ignite fireworks.
- Use common sense. Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Use a “designated shooter” for the safety of everyone present.
- Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
- Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or mishap. Never try to relight or handle a malfunctioning firework. Douse and soak with water, and then dispose of it properly.
- Never give a lighted sparkler to another person. Also, never throw, wave or run with sparklers.