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Injury Prevention & Treatment

Fireworks Safety Tips for the Fourth of July

Fireworks on the Fourth of July are as American as apple pie. Carol Cunningham, MD, Emergency Medicine Physician at Akron General Health System in Ohio urges using common sense when it comes to handling fireworks to celebrate our country’s birthday.

On average, about 200 people every day go to the emergency department with fireworks-related injuries around the 4th of July holiday, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). More than half the injuries were burns. For example, a sparkler can burn at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit – which is as hot as a blowtorch.

Almost half (41 percent) of fireworks injuries are to a person’s hands, fingers or arms. One-third (38 percent) of them are to a person’s eyes, head, face and ears (CPSC).

If fireworks are legal in your community, The American College of Emergency Physicians strongly suggests that you do not use fireworks at your home. If you do use them, however, these do’s and don’ts will help make it a safer experience.

  • DO – Have knowledgeable supervision by an experienced adult if you choose to use fireworks.
  • DO – Buy fireworks from reputable dealers.
  • DO – Read warning labels and follow all instructions.
  • DO – Keep a bucket of water or fire extinguisher on hand.
  • DO – Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
  • DO – Dispose of all fireworks properly.
  • DON’T – Give any fireworks, including sparklers, to small children; older children should be supervised by a responsible adult.
  • DON’T – Light fireworks indoors or near other objects.
  • DON’T – Place your body over a fireworks device when trying to light the fuse and immediately back up to a safe distance after you light it.
  • DON’T – Point or throw fireworks at another person, ever.
  • DON’T – Try to re-light or pick up malfunctioning fireworks.
  • DON’T – Wear loose clothing while using any fireworks.
  • DON’T – Set off fireworks in glass or metal containers – the fragments can cause severe injury.
  • DON’T – Carry fireworks in a pocket.

“The safest and only thing you should do is watch a professional fireworks display managed by experts who have proper training and experience handling these explosives,” says Dr. Cunningham.

Carol Cunningham, MD, Emergency Medicine Physician at Akron General Health System, and State Medical Director for Ohio Department of Public Safety, Division of EMS, is available for interviews.


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