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Article Type: Blog

What ER Doctors Wish You Knew About Fireworks Safety


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The Fourth of July holiday is a fun time to celebrate and connect with friends, family and neighbors. People across the country will head outside to fire up the grill, cool off in the pool, and have a delicious potluck picnic. And what better way to end a long, lazy day in the sun than lighting up the sky with red, white and blue?

But with those spectacular displays comes a healthy dose of danger. As the holiday approaches and you make plans for your celebration, vow to keep your family safe by learning a few things ER doctors wish you knew.

Fireworks Are Fantastic, but Can Be Dangerous

You see a patriotic display and cherished family tradition — but ER docs see danger. While fireworks are a mainstay of Independence Day celebrations, they’re also a leading cause of emergency room visits as the holiday weekend nears. In fact, the National Fire Protection Association reports that emergency rooms treat roughly 13,000 people for firework-related injuries each year, including burns on the hands, fingers, head, face, legs and eyes. These burns can range from mild to severe — and can sometimes be life-threatening.

Protect Your Family: Play It Safe With Fireworks

According to the American College of Emergency Physicians, the best way to avoid any chance of injury from fireworks is to view only professional fireworks displays. The sponsors of these professional events:

  • Ensure all workers are specially trained and experienced in the use of fireworks
  • Have emergency personnel on hand
  • Take every safety precaution

However, if you do plan to set off your own fireworks at home, we suggest following these important safety tips to avoid harm.

Use Legal Fireworks

There’s a reason many fireworks are illegal for personal use — they’re simply too dangerous. Heed all labels and warnings. And when in doubt, don’t purchase them.

Choose a Good Spot

Never light fireworks indoors or near a house or car. Find a flat, concrete surface away from dry grass, leaves or other flammable items. 

Consider Alternatives

Swap out flaming hot sparklers with glow sticks for young children. Sparklers are one of the leading causes of injuries to children during the Fourth of July festivities. 

Dress Appropriately

To avoid the chance of your clothing catching a spark, wear fitted, non-flammable clothing. Loose or flowing garments can be a formula for disaster.

Follow Directions

Manufacturers are required to follow stringent guidelines for labeling their products. Read the instructions on each firework carefully and light them one at a time. 

Have a Bucket of Water On Hand

Having a bucket of water handy allows you to properly dispose of used fireworks. 

Keep Your Distance

Stand several feet away once the firework is lit and resist the urge to check on a firework that doesn’t ignite right away. This is the most common way people get head and face injuries. You should also aim fireworks away from your audience and any homes or cars nearby. 

Plan for Safety

Have a fire extinguisher and first aid kit on hand and ready for use. 

Watch Children Closely

Children are curious. Help demystify fireworks by explaining how they work and why they can be dangerous. Review safety rules beforehand to be sure they know to stay far away from all fireworks, even after they’ve gone off. And of course, keep a close watch during your display.

Make Sure Your July 4thCelebration Goes Off With a Bang

ER docs enjoy a good fireworks display every bit as much as you do — they just want to be sure you understand what’s at stake, so you can best protect your family. If someone in your group is injured during a home fireworks display, call 911 immediately. Follow the operator’s instructions for treating the injury until you’re able to get to an emergency room


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