Safety first: How to prevent fireworks injuries

Fireworks seem fun, but they are not child’s play

Kids Watching Fireworks at Home

Image source: Thinkstock

Summer evenings, cookouts, Independence Day… many families enjoy spending these times with family, friends and fireworks.

Fireworks displays can be a wonderful way to celebrate holidays, but safety experts and officials strongly urge leaving them to the professionals. Public fireworks displays are often managed carefully by safety experts, such as local fire departments, who are prepared to act in case something goes wrong.

However, if you plan to use consumer fireworks at home, it’ important to understand the risks and know what to do to be safe.

The risks of using fireworks

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, about 8,700 people were treated in emergency rooms in 2012 for injuries associated with fireworks. Sixty percent of the injuries happened in a one month period around July 4.

Nearly half of the injuries involved children and young adults under the age of 20.

Most injuries caused by fireworks are burns, especially to hands, fingers, and legs. The eyes and head area can also be injured, but more often by bruising and foreign objects in the eye.

Fireworks can cause blindness, permanent scarring and even death.

Think safety: Be prepared

Prevent fires

Before you use fireworks, make sure you are ready in case something goes wrong. Have a hose or bucket of water nearby and make sure the area is clear. Never use fireworks indoors and make sure the outside environment is flat, clear of grass, leaves and far enough away from houses.

According to the Texas Department of Insurance, there were 802 fireworks-related fires in Texas in 2012, causing nearly $375,000 in losses. The majority of those fires happened in July.

Remember, fireworks are illegal within the city limits of Austin, West Lake Hills and Rollingwood. Fireworks are also not allowed in parks operated or managed by Travis County. Ninety percent of Texas is in some level of drought according to the US Drought Monitor, which means the risk of fire is high.

Heed warning labels

Be sure to read and follow label directions and warning. Only purchase fireworks from a reliable source. Never experiment with homemade fireworks.

Adults only

Only adults should light fireworks. Use safety glasses to protect your eyes.

Also, make sure other people are out of range before you light them. If older children are permitted to use fireworks, make sure it is only under close adult supervision. There should be no running or horseplay.

Fireworks are not toys

Children under 12 should not handle fireworks, even sparklers.

Sparklers may seem fun and harmless, but it’s important to remember that sparklers are fire. Sparklers can reach 1,800°F (982°C) — that’s hot enough to melt gold.

They can cause serious burns, so make sure to keep them away from hair, clothing, and the face.

Leave “duds” alone

Never try to re-light fireworks that have not fully functioned. Wait 20 minutes, then soak it in a bucket of water.

Remember, fireworks can be dangerous if not handled properly. Take steps to prevent injuries and damage from occurring. And if there is an emergency, be sure to seek medical help right away. Know basic first aid and CPR and call 911 for professional help.


KidsHealth: Fireworks Safety

Consumer Product Safety Commission: Fireworks (pdf)

National Council on Fireworks Safety


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I enjoy children and love to work with them as they grow and mature. The relationships I form between my patients and their families make my career particularly rewarding. I practice medicine democratically, developing a partnership between physician, patient and family. Listening to my patients is my best asset.
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