Employee & Community Health

Oohs and ahhs - not ows

6/15/2015

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Is there anything better than oohing and aahing over fireworks on a warm Fourth of July night? But sometimes those oohs and aahs can become serious ows.

“The majority of fireworks injuries happen in the months surrounding the Fourth of July,” says Dr. Maria Valdes, Community Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine (CPAM). “Injuries can occur with any fireworks, including firecrackers, sparklers – which can reach temperatures as high as 2,000 degrees -- and bottle rockets.”

Burns are the most common injuries from fireworks, affecting any part of the body, but primarily the head, hands and eyes. People of all ages can get hurt, although the highest incidence of injury is to those under 25, with about half occurring in children under age 15. Sparklers account for more than half the injuries to children under five.

The safest option is to avoid using personal fireworks and attend a public fireworks display instead. But if you are lighting fireworks at home, take these simple precautions:

  1. Follow your state and local community laws for buying and using fireworks.
  2. Closely supervise children in the area where fireworks are being lit. Never allow them to hold or light the fireworks themselves 
  3. Alcohol and fireworks don’t mix. A responsible adult needs to be in charge of the fireworks and make sure others in the area are safe.
  4. Light fireworks away from buildings and vehicles. Have a bucket of water and garden hose handy.
  5. Wear eye and hearing protection. Light only one firework at a time, then move away quickly. Never relight a “dud.” Instead, wait 20 minutes, then soak it in bucket of water.
  6. When you’re finished with your fireworks display, douse the entire fireworks area with water and place all used fireworks in a water-filled metal can.

“The Fourth of July is a great time to celebrate,” says Valdes. “Keep it a fun – and safe -- time without injury from the use of personal fireworks.”