JUNEAU – As we all prepare to celebrate Independence Day, SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) urges everyone to celebrate safely.Injuries and fireworks-related deaths are on the rise according to a recent study by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). In 2014, approximately 10,500 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries associated with fireworks; an increase from 8,700 injuries reported in 2012. Most of the injuries involved hands and fingers, the head (including face, eyes, and ears), legs and arms. Children under the age of 15 years old accounted for 35 percent of the estimated injuries.

While the safest way to experience fireworks is as an observer at a professional, public fireworks display, experts urge those who decide to use legal fireworks to take the following safety precautions:

  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks, including sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt some metals.
  • Older children allowed to handle fireworks should always have close adult supervision.
  • 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 each one.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person, structure, or vehicle.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move away from them quickly.
  • Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or another mishap.
  • Never try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks or “duds.” Soak them with water and throw them away.
  • After fireworks complete their burning, douse it with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding the device to prevent a fire.

If you sustain a fireworks injury, it is critical to seek assistance from a medical professional. For emergencies, please call 911 or your local emergency services dispatch immediately. SEARHC patients uncertain of whether or not in injury is an emergency may call SEARHC’s After-Hours Nurse Advice Line at1-800-613-0560 to speak to a registered nurse who will determine whether it requires emergency assistance, a call to a SEARHC provider, or may be treated at home.