There will be parades, family picnics, cookouts, American flags flying outside of homes, and, of course, fireworks this Fourth of July. Many people will head to their local fireworks stand this week to purchase bottle rockets, Roman Candles, etc. and set them off to celebrate the holiday. While this can be a fun activity, if you are not careful, it can also be a dangerous one.
“We see patients every year in our ER with serious injuries from fireworks accidents,” said Dr. Samuel Prater, medical director of Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical CenterEmergency Departmentand associate professor in the Department Of Emergency Medicine at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston. “Playing with fireworks can go terribly wrong really fast if you are not paying attention to what you are doing.’
Prater has a few tips on how to stay safe when dealing with fireworks:
- Never allow young children to handle fireworks; older children should use them only under close adult supervision.
- Never use fireworks while impaired by drugs or alcohol.
- Anyone using fireworks or standing nearby should wear protective eyewear.
- Never hold lighted fireworks in your hands and never light them indoors. Only use them away from people, houses and flammable material.
- Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
- Only light one device at a time and maintain a safe distance after lighting.
- Never ignite devices in a container and do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks.
- Soak both spent and unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding.
- Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don’t go off or in case of fire.
- Never use illegal fireworks.
Every year, young children can be found along parade routes and at festivals with sparklers in hand, but sparklers are a lot more dangerous than most people think.
“Sparklers burn at about 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt some metals,” Prater said. “Sparklers can quickly ignite clothing, and cause severe burns, especially in children who might drop them on their feet or inadvertently touch other parts of the body.”
According to the National Fire Protection Association, fireworks caused more than 19,000 fires in 2018, resulting in more than $105 million in property damage. Nearly half of the fires occur on the Fourth of July and more than one-third of the injuries occurred in children and young adults, 15 years of age and younger.
“It’s imperative that fireworks safety is taken seriously because you can lose hands, fingers and toes in an instant if you are not careful,” Prater said. “Take the necessary precautions to protect you are your loved ones because no one wants to spend their holiday in the emergency room.”