Fireworks safety: Protect yourself this Independence Day
Fireworks and the Fourth of July go hand in hand, but the exciting displays come with some risk. In 2014, over 10,000 Americans were treated in U.S. emergency departments for fireworks-related injuries, according to the most recent annual figures from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
As regulations on fireworks sales have eased over the last 10 years, there has also been a sharp increase in cases of U.S. kids hospitalized for fireworks-related burns, according to researchers at the University of Louisville.
If fireworks are going to be a part of your Independence Day celebrations, follow these four fireworks safety tips to reduce the risk of injury:
- Leave it to the pros. When possible, attend public fireworks displays. Professional fireworks shows are usually flashier than at-home displays, and they tend to be safer.
- Protect the ears. The huge bang that accompanies exploding fireworks can damage hearing. In some cases, the damage is permanent. To protect your ears, sit at least 500 feet from where the fireworks are launched. Also consider using noise-reduction earplugs to protect kids’ ears.
- Use caution at home. If you do plan to set off your own fireworks, follow these safety tips:
- Read and follow all label directions.
- Don’t let children play with fireworks.
- Don’t drink alcohol while handling fireworks.
- Never point or throw fireworks at other people.
- Use fireworks outside only, away from buildings and vehicles.
- Wear safety goggles to protect your eyes when lighting fireworks.
- Make sure other people are out of range before setting off fireworks.
- Light fireworks one at a time, and then move away quickly after ignition.
- Keep a bucket of water or a hose nearby to put out fires or malfunctioning fireworks.
- Don’t try to re-light “duds.” If a firework fails to go off immediately, wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
- Treat injuries promptly. Burns and eye injuries are the most common fireworks-related injuries. If a victim suffers eye damage from fireworks, avoid touching the eyes or flushing them with water, and seek immediate medical attention even if the injury seems minor. People who experience serious burns from fireworks should also seek prompt medical attention. Learn more about burns and burn rehabilitation.