Employee & Community Health

6 tips for fireworks with "oohs" and "aahs" but no "owws"

6/22/2016 by Maria G. Valdes, MD

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Fireworks: hot, hot, hot

During the month around the 4th of July, emergency rooms average 230 visits per day from people with fireworks-related injuries. The biggest "owws" from fireworks are burns. Sparklers can reach temperatures as high as 2,000 degrees, but all fireworks can cause burns, mostly to the hands, eyes, face and ears.

People under 25 are most likely to be injured, with half of those hurt under 15. Sparklers cause more than half of the injuries to children under five. 

6 tips for fireworks safety

To be really safe, watch a public fireworks display. But if you have fireworks at home, here are six ways to stay safe:

  • Follow your state and local community laws. Legal fireworks have a label with the manufacturer's name and directions. Illegal ones are unlabeled and have names such as M80, M100, Blockbuster or Quarterpounder. Fireworks in brown packaging are meant for professional displays. Use fireworks only as intended; don’t combine or alter them. 
  • Closely supervisor children where fireworks are being lit. Never allow them to hold or light the fireworks themselves.
  • Don’t mix alcohol and fireworks. A sober, responsible adult needs to be in charge of the fireworks and make sure others in the area are safe.
  • Light fireworks away from buildings and vehicles. Have a bucket of water and garden hose handy. After the fireworks display, dowse the entire fireworks area with water and place all used fireworks in a water-filled metal can.
  • Light fireworks safely. The person lighting the fireworks should wear eye and hearing protection. Light only one firework at a time and then move away quickly. Never place any part of your body directly over the fireworks when lighting the fuse. Never relight a firework. Instead, wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
  • Know what to do if someone gets hurt. The injured person should seek immediate care in the nearest emergency room. If an eye injury occurs, do not rub it, flush it with water or put ointment on it. Instead, seek immediate medical attention. 
Dr. Maria G. Valdes is a primary care pediatrician in Employee and Community Health's (ECH) Division of Community Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine (CPAM).