The Fourth of July can be a fun family event—an exciting time to celebrate and enjoy the summer with family and friends. And fireworks are usually a part of the celebration. Every year however, children and adults suffer injuries from fireworks, especially eye injuries and burns.
If you choose to use fireworks at your next event, follow these safety tips:
- Buy legal fireworks from reliable sellers.—Note: Some states ban fireworks. Check with your local government agency to determine if fireworks are banned in your state.
- Read and follow all label instructions and warnings.
- Always have an adult present. An adult should light the fireworks.
- Never allow children to ignite fireworks or play with them.
- Use fireworks outdoors only. Choose a smooth, flat surface away from people, pets, houses, and flammable materials (like dry leaves).
- All pets should be indoors during a fireworks display. Pets can become scared of the loud noises, and they could be injured.
- Never throw or point fireworks at other people. Be sure that people are out of range before lighting fireworks.
- Always have water handy. A garden hose and a bucket should be in easy reach. After a firework has burned out, pour water on it. Soak it completely.
- Never take fireworks apart, mix their contents with anything else, or attempt to make your own fireworks.
- Always wear eye protection when lighting fireworks. Never have any part of your body over the fireworks.
- Light only one firework at a time. Move away quickly once the firecracker is lit.
- Never re-light a "dud" firework. Soak the dud firework in a bucket of water.
- Never carry fireworks in your pocket.
- Never shoot fireworks in metal or glass containers.
- Dispose of fireworks by soaking them in water. After, put them in a fireproof container that has a cover.
- Store unused fireworks in a cool, dry place.
- After a fireworks display, do not let your child pick up the firework pieces that are on the ground. These pieces could explode.
Sparklers are also very popular during the Fourth of July. Unfortunately, these small hand-held fireworks also causes injuries, especially in children. The National Council on Fireworks Safety recommends that only older children (eg, over age 12 years) should be allowed to use sparklers. The organization also recommends these tips:
- Wear closed-toe shoes to prevent burns on your feet.
- Light only one sparkler at a time.
- Stand when using a sparkler. Never run with a sparkler in your hand.
- Never wave a sparkler or throw one.
- Keep the sparkler at arm's length. Stand far away from people.
- Never hold a child in your arms if you are also holding a sparkler.
- Once lit, the sparkler becomes very hot. After it has burned out, put the sparkler in a bucket of water.
Be fireworks smart before, during and after your consumer fireworks display. The National Council on Fireworks Safety website. Available at: http://www.fireworksafety.com/news_releases/be_fireworks_smart_before_d.pdf. Accessed September 22, 2011.
Fireworks safety. Kids Health.org website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/parent/firstaid_safe/outdoor/fireworks.html. Updated May 2010. Accessed September 22, 2011.
Fireworks safety. US Consumer Product and Safety Commission website. Available at: http://www.cpsc.gov/info/fireworks/index.html. Accessed September 22, 2011.
Last reviewed October 2011 by Brian Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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