Be Safe This Fourth of July

Fireworks and sparklers are commonly used in Fourth of July celebrations, but these celebrations can quickly turn to tragedy. Fireworks were involved in an estimated 8,700 injuries treated in hospitals in the United States in 2012, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

“The good news is that these injuries are 100 percent preventable,” said Dr. William Hickerson, Medical Director at Firefighters Regional Burn Center. “By far, the safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend an outdoor public display put on by specially trained professionals.”

Fireworks pose a serious injury risk to anyone using them, and they should not be used by children under any circumstances. This includes sparklers, which many people erroneously consider a safer alternative to fireworks. During the excitement of Fourth of July celebrations, it is easy to overlook their hazards, especially with children.

“Parents often do not realize that children can suffer serious injuries from sparklers,” said Dr. Hickerson. “Sparklers can exceed 1,000 degrees, which is hot enough to melt some metals, and the sparkler wire remains hot long after the flame has extinguished.”

The staff at Firefighters Regional Burn Center, a full service burn center housed at Regional Medical Center, knows all too well how a life-altering burn injury can happen in a matter of seconds. The Burn Center urges the public to not use fireworks and sparklers at home. Instead, attend public displays put on by specially trained professionals.

For individuals who insist on using fireworks themselves, the Burn Center offers the following tips for preventing firework injuries:

  • First and foremost, if fireworks are illegal where you live, do not purchase or use them.
  • Always have an adult supervise firework activities, and never allow children under 12 to play with or ignite fireworks.
  • Use common sense.  Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Use a “designated shooter” for the safety of everyone present.
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or mishap. Never try to relight or handle a malfunctioning firework. Douse and soak with water, and then dispose of it properly.
  • Never give a lighted sparkler to another person. Also, never throw, wave or run with sparklers.