On average, 230 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.
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Here are some tips from the experts at the Intermountain Medical Center Level I Trauma Program to help avoid potential injuries from common kinds of fireworks:
Sparklers burn at temperatures of up to 2,000 degrees — which is as hot a blowtorch. That’s hot enough to melt some metals, so a rogue spark or an inattentive child can cause severe burns to themselves or other partygoers.
"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."
Fountains come in all shapes and sizes; some even whistle loud enough to be annoying. The warning on the side reads, "Emits showers of sparks," which differ from aerials that actually shoot explosives into the air.
"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."
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Aerial fireworks 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.
OTHER SAFETY TIPS
- Don’t purchase illegal fireworks.
- Never drink alcoholic beverages or take drugs when using fireworks.
- Never throw or toss fireworks at another person or animal.
- If it's a dud, leave it alone - don't try to manipulate or re-light it.
- Consider the direction of the wind and wind speed - never light fireworks if winds are too strong.
- Keep a bucket of water or hose nearby — along with a first aid kit.