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Preventing and Treating Fireworks Injuries

Preventing and Treating Fireworks Injuries

By Collin Searle

Jul 2, 2020

Updated Jul 13, 2023

5 min read

fireworks safety-01

On average, 180 people go to an emergency room every day with firework-related injuries in the month around the July 4th holiday, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Understanding the dangers of fireworks can help prevent these injuries and help your family stay safe.

Here are 5 safety practices you should do to prevent firework injuries:

  1. Don’t allow young children to play with fireworks under any circumstance. Sparklers may seem safe, but did you know they burn at nearly 2,000o F? That's hot enough to melt gold – and cause serious burns.
  2. Use fireworks in an area clear of burn dangers, or combustible materials – it’s really dry out there, so watch out for wood piles, brush fields, and your house!
  3. Never try to relight or handle fireworks that won’t light. Soak it in water and throw it away.
  4. Always keep a bucket of water near for emergencies and soaking fireworks that don’t work.
  5.  Once a firework is burning stand a safe distance back and enjoy the show. Also, give the firework plenty of time to run its course.

Related Post: Tips to Prevent Injuries from Fireworks

Treating Burn Injuries from Fireworks

Practicing firework safety is the first step you should take in order to keep you and your loved ones out of harm's way this Fourth of July. However, it is inevitable for a burn to happen when handling fireworks. So, how can you treat accidental burns, if someone you care about is injured this holiday?

  • The most important thing to do first is make sure it is clean and dry. In all cases you should be able to use a mild soap and lukewarm water to clean and sanitize the wound.
  • Using Neosporin or other topical ointments isn’t necessarily required in all situations. Sometimes using it too much can keep the wound moist and can delay the healing process to some degree. If you initially cleaned the wound and can keep it clean and dry, you may not need an antibiotic ointment at all.
  • Most individuals with burns can take an ibuprofen or Tylenol at the recommended over-the-counter dosage to manage pain. There are also some topical pain relievers that can be used, such as burn free wipes; which have a light dose of numbing medication in them. Always be sure to follow the guidelines provided on the packaging of the pain-relieving medications.
  • As a general guideline, if the size of the wound is bigger than the palm of your hand it may need a second opinion or further evaluation. If the burn occurs around the eyes, nose, ears, toes and fingers, regardless of size, it’s recommended that a physician evaluate you – as the wound may become problematic. Lastly, if you notice symptoms of the wound becoming infected (i.e. increased pain, fever, streaking redness, etc.) you should see a physician.

3 Most Dangerous Fireworks

Family, friends, BBQs, and patriotic music fill the day with fun and excitement for the fireworks nightcap. While all fireworks have risk and danger associated with them, according to the American Association of Pediatrics the three most dangerous fireworks common at most family parties:

  • Sparklers — "Sparklers are dangerous because most people assume they’re the perfect firework for kids," said Brad Morris, PA, who is a physician assistant with Intermountain Medical Center's Level I Trauma Program. "But they burn hot and remain hot even after the sparks stop flying. I strongly recommend dropping burnt-up sparklers directly into a bucket of water."
  • Aerials — These can be purchased at most firework stands and retail stores. But that doesn't mean they’re toys. In fact, aerials present many hazardous situations that lead to injuries and burns.
    • "Aerials should always be secured to the ground in some manner," said Morris. "You can use a cinder block or something heavy and non-flammable, which will help prevent the firework from tipping over as explosives are launched up into the air. If they’re tipped, the explosives are often launched into a crowd, dry foliage, or house, and when it explodes, it can cause serious damage."
    • Spectators should stay a safe distance away to reduce the chances of being injured from a malfunctioning aerial.
  • Fountains— "Thirty-eight percent of firework injuries are to the face, head, ears, and eyes," notes Morris. "Fountains can be dangerous because people tend to stand over them rather than to the side of them when they’re lighting them. If the fuse burns faster than you expect, the shower of sparks will shoot up into your face, causing injuries. Always stand to the side of the fountain and only have one person light them at a time."

These fireworks send 85,800 children in the U.S. to the hospital emergency department with serious injuries each year. Avoiding the most dangerous fireworks and using some simple common-sense guidelines can help you enjoy the celebration injury free. Here are some guidelines, courtesy of Primary Children’s Hospital website.

If You're Injured — Care is Available for You

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, medical emergencies and urgent situations unrelated to the virus are still happening. If the unthinkable happens and someone is injured by fireworks, here are some suggestions:

  • Go immediately to a doctor or hospital. You can also get care through Connect Care.
  • Don’t flush an injured eye with water or attempt to put ointment on it. Instead, cut out the bottom of a paper cup, put it around the eye and seek immediate medical attention – someone’s eyesight may depend on it.
  • If the injury is a burn, remove clothing from the burned area and run cool, not cold, water over the burn. Call your doctor immediately.

"Intermountain Healthcare is committed to making sure you have the safest experience possible," said Dr. David Hasleton, Intermountain Healthcare's senior medical director of emergency and trauma operations. "If you have a medical emergency, you should first call 911, go to the emergency department and not delay treatment."

For more bonus fun facts head over to our friends SelectHealth blog!


FULL fireworks safety