The Fourth of July is a time for pool parties, barbecues and of course, fireworks. Shooting off fireworks and lighting sparklers are a fun and time honored tradition for celebrating our nation’s independence. All too often though backyard displays cause quickly turn tragic with injuries, burns, and fire.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, 40 percent of all fires reported are a result of a misuse of fireworks. Serious injury also can result if not properly handled. The Consumer Product Safety Commission offers the following tips to spark safety when using fireworks this Fourth of July:
- Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
- Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.
- 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.
- Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
- Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
- Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
- Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
- Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
- After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
- Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.
A special note about children and fireworks: Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don’t realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt some metals.
You can take the following steps to treat a firework burn:
For minor burns, run the affected area under cold water for at least 10 minutes. Cling wrap can be used to protect burns while you are transported to the emergency room. Second skin moist burn pads, which can be found in common home first aid kits, protect and cool minor burns. Another common household protect, aloe vera gel, will temporarily cool the burn until you can have it properly treated. Additionally, it’s never a bad idea to have a fire blanket on hand.
If the burn is larger than your hand, you should go to the ER immediately.
In addition to burns, sparklers can also cause eye injuries. Should this happen, flush the eye with saline solution or clean water. Examine the eye under a bright light and repeat flushing the eye until all foreign objects (ash, dirt, dust) are removed.
If you plan on setting off fireworks this Fourth of July, do so safely. If a minor burn persists, consult a physician immediately, or contact Michigan Urgent Care.