Avoiding Firework Mishaps & Associated Injuries
Summer means picnics, barbecues, parades and fireworks displays, especially around the 4th of July. Before your family celebrates, make sure everyone knows about fireworks safety. If not handled properly, fireworks can cause serious burn and eye injuries in kids and adults. No matter where you are, even if it is legal to handle fireworks in your state, the best way to protect yourself and your family is not to use any fireworks at home — period.
The use of fireworks at home is illegal in many states, not just Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York, so be sure to check with your local police department first. If you choose to use fireworks anyway, be sure to know the risks and how to safely handle them.
Numerous injuries can occur due to the misuse of fireworks, not just burns and eye injuries. Bigger fireworks, some of which have been banned in the US since 1966, have caused limb-threatening injuries due to improper handling.
Firework injuries are not just caused by larger fireworks. Nearly 90% of emergency room firework injuries involve fireworks sold for at home use, including sparklers. Although sparklers may seem innocent and child friendly, they burn at temperatures over 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, hot enough to cause serious 3rd degree burns when mishandled.
In addition to the risks of personal injury, fireworks also increase the risk of starting fires. Clothing, grass, trees, even your neighbor’s home, can catch fire from a firework gone wrong. The National Fire Protection Association estimates that local fire departments respond to more than 50,000 fires caused by fireworks each year. Always have a bucket of water and a hose available and ready in the event of an accident and always point fireworks away from homes, brush, leaves and flammable substances.
Safety tips to know and follow:
- Never allow young children to handle fireworks.
- Older children should use fireworks only under close adult supervision.
- Light fireworks outdoors in a clear area away from onlookers, houses, and flammable materials.
- Light one device at a time; maintain a safe distance after lighting.
- Do not allow any running around or horseplay while fireworks are being used.
- Never ignite devices in a container.
- Never try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks.
- Soak fireworks in water before discarding them.
- Do not allow children to pick up pieces of fireworks, since these may still be active and could go off again at any time.
- Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don’t go off or in case of fire.
- Do not hold fireworks in your hand while lighting.
- Always wear eye protection when lighting fireworks.
Fireworks are meant to be fun and enjoyable, but you’ll enjoy them much more knowing your family is safe. Take extra precautions this Fourth of July, and remember that the best way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public display conducted by professionals.
In the event of a firework related injury, seek medical attention immediately. In the event of a fire that cannot be easily extinguished, call 9-1-1.