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4th of July Fireworks are a BLAST! (Celebrate safely.)

We all look forward to the colors and sounds of fireworks associated with the 4th of July holiday. From public displays high in the sky and all the “OOOOHHHHs!” and “AAAAAHHHHHs!” of the crowd watching below to the neighborhood families getting together and setting off some locally purchased Roman Candles, firecrackers, and sparkly fountains. There is no doubt; it is a fun holiday. But, as we all prepare to celebrate Independence Day, we also want to encourage everyone to celebrate the holiday safely by ensuring you have some solid facts and tips for doing so.

Fourth of July celebration decorations mixed with picnic drinks and popsicles.

Common firework injuries

According to the most recent study by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), approximately 12,900 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms in the United States for injuries associated with fireworks in 2017.

Most of the injuries involved hands and fingers, the head (including face, eyes, and ears), and legs. Children under the age of 15 accounted for an estimated 36 percent of the injuries and an estimated fifty percent of the estimated emergency department-treated, fireworks-related injuries were to individuals younger than 20 with children 10-14 years old having the highest rate of ER-treated injuries. Young adults age 20-24 had the second highest rate.

Firework safety tips

While the safest way to experience fireworks is to watch a professional, public fireworks display, experts strongly advise 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 may seem harmless, but they burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt some metals. Approximately 1,200 ER visits were associated with sparklers in 2017.
  • Older children allowed to handle fireworks should always have close adult supervision.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then immediately back up to a safe distance after lighting each one.
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person, structure, or vehicle.
  • 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 finish 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. If it is outside regular clinic hours, SEARHC patients uncertain of whether or not an injury is an emergency are encouraged to call our free Nurse Advice Line at 1-800-613-0560 to speak to a registered nurse who will determine whether it requires emergency assistance, a call to a SEARHC provider, or can be treated at home.

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The SEARHC Crisis Help Line, 1.877.294.0074, is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to residents of Southeast Alaska.