With most July 4th celebrations ending in a fun and colorful presentation of fireworks, it is important to know how harmful those fireworks can be if they are not used properly.
“We see a handful of firework injuries each year. Most of the injuries, which are usually eye and hand injuries caused by holding an incendiary device too long, are primarily clustered in July,” said Howard Blumstein, MD, FAAEM, Emergency Department medical director. “Five out of six fireworks injuries are caused by fireworks that are legal to purchase. Do not assume that just because it was bought legally means it is safe.”
The careless use of fireworks has resulted in approximately 10,000 injuries every year, contributing to more than 65 percent of injuries incurred during the month of July, according to the National Council on Fireworks Safety (NCFS).
To prevent injury, the NCFS recommends the following:
- Use fireworks outdoors only.
- Obey local laws. If fireworks are not legal where you live, do not use them.
- Always have water handy either through a hose or in a bucket.
- Only use fireworks as intended. Don't try to alter them or combine them.
- Never relight a "dud" firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
- Only light one at a time.
- Use common sense. Spectators should keep a safe distance from the shooter and the shooter should wear safety glasses. Also, be aware of other people around you and make sure they are out of range of the firework you are using.
- Never point or shoot fireworks at another person.
- Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Have a "designated shooter."
- Only persons over the age of 12 should be allowed to handle sparklers of any type.
- Do not ever use homemade fireworks.
If you have questions about fireworks safety or possible injuries, contact a Wake Forest Baptist Health primary care physician.