Fourth of July tip: Don’t put fireworks in your pocket


Fireworks are the essence of July Fourth, a celebration of joy and pride on public display. But with fireworks comes risk – especially to children. And the careless. And the inebriated.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission tracks fireworks injuries and deaths, and STAT, a wonderful source of health and medicine news, calls out this important fact: “Children are much more likely than adults to get hurt — 12-year-olds sustain more fireworks injuries than any other age group.”

Four states even allow 12-year-old to purchase fireworks. Seriously.

To make its point about the wisdom, or lack thereof, of playing with fireworks, STAT offers up a graphic featuring an array of emergency room reports. The notes describe a 2-year-old’s burns to the abdomen from a sparkler, an 8-month-old’s ingestion of fireworks left lying on a table, a 19-year-old’s eye injuries from a bottle rocket, and a 13-year-old's burns to both hands after lighting an entire box of sparklers.

You’d think that anyone who’s ever been, or known, a 13-year-old could have seen that coming.

And yet, year after year, those ER visits prove otherwise.

So here are 15 essential guidelines for fireworks safety. Among them:

  • Don't try to re-light fireworks that have not worked properly.
  • Don't consume alcohol when using fireworks.
  • And my favorite: Never carry fireworks in your pocket.

Also, for those who ignore the above, the guidelines specify what to do in case of eye injury.

• Don't delay medical attention, even if the injury seems minor.
• Don't attempt to rinse out the eye. This can be very damaging.
• Avoid putting pressure on the eye. Avoid touching the injury.
• Don't give the victim aspirin or ibuprofen to try reducing the pain. These thin the blood and might increase bleeding.
• Don't apply ointment or any medication. It's probably not sterile.

So, have a safe and happy Fourth of July. Injuries are a poor way to celebrate independence.

By the way, the STAT graphics also break down injuries by age and gender. Super cool.

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