WASHINGTON — What would the Fourth of July be without fireworks? A little less busy in hospital emergency rooms. The nation’s emergency physicians urge you to celebrate the country’s birthday by using common sense when it comes to the potential dangers of fireworks.
“There’s no such thing as completely safe fireworks,” said Dr. Andrew Sama, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP). “A few minutes of well-intentioned fun can result in lifelong disabilities.”
On average, about 200 people every day go to the ER with fireworks-related injuries around the 4th of July holiday, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Most of injuries involve burns. For example, a sparkler can burn at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit — which is as hot as a blow torch.
Almost half (46 percent) of fireworks injuries are to a person’s hands or fingers. One-third (34 percent) of them are to a person’s eyes, head, face and ears (CPSC).
If fireworks are legal in your community, ACEP 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
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 fireworks have not ignited fully
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.
DON’T — Try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks
“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,” said Dr. Sama. “Have fun and enjoy this great American holiday. As always, we’ll be ready to treat you, but we don’t want to have to see you in the ER.”
ACEP is the national medical specialty society representing emergency medicine. ACEP is committed to advancing emergency care through continuing education, research and public education. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, ACEP has 53 chapters representing each state, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. A Government Services Chapter represents emergency physicians employed by military branches and other government agencies.