Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Fireworks Safety 4th of July and beyond

With the Fourth of July holiday fast approaching,  experts are urging people to use caution when handling fireworks and have provided a list of safety tips to consider.

According to the latest U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission report, fireworks sent roughly 11,000 people to the emergency room over the course of the Fourth of July holiday. Of these injuries, approximately 36 percent were to the hand, thumb and digits. Interesting enough, 40% of the injuries are caused by fireworks that were thought to be somewhat safe such as sparklers and firecrackers.

The number of firework-related injuries treated in emergency rooms in the United States has ranged from 8,500 to 9,800 since 1997; in 2011, 26% of patients were younger than age 15.1  Firework-related injuries range in severity from superficial burns to complete loss of the hand and fingers.  The most common injuries are burns to the fingers, hand, and wrist (26.7%), followed by injuries to the eye (14.9%), and open injuries to the hand and wrist (6.5%).2   Other sources report that the number of burns to the fingers, hand, and arm are as high as 41%.3  Burns account for more than 50% of firework-related injuries, 

Recent years were especially injurious and many high profile injuries occurred. Such as to the NFL's  Jason Pierre Paul  and in 2015 fireworks injuries reached  a 15 year high.

Be responsible when incorporating fireworks into your holiday and summer festivities. Provided below are 10 fireworks safety tips to keep yourself and others safe:
  • While lighting fireworks, never position any part of your body over them
  • After lighting fireworks, immediately back up to a safe distance
  • To avoid burns from sparklers, poke a hole at the bottom of a cup and put the handle of the sparkler through the hole. This technique will shield your hand from sparks that are emitted from the sparkler. It’s also important to wear gloves when using sparklers (leather preferred) as they can be as hot as a blow torch and over 15 times hotter than boiling water.
  • Never attempt to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks
  • Light only one firework at a time – at arm’s length – with an extended lighter
  • Always wear eye protection/safety glasses when lighting fireworks
  • Never carry a firework in your pocket or shoot them from a metal or glass container
  • Never aim or throw fireworks at another person, animal or building
  • Have a bucket of water or working garden hose accessible
  • Properly dispose of all fireworks (used and unused). Allow used fireworks to soak in water for a few hours before discarding.

The following precautions should be taken when attending a public fireworks display:

  • Obey safety barriers and ushers.
  • Stay back a minimum of 500 feet from the launching site.
  • Resist the temptation to pick up firework debris when the display is over.  The debris may still be hot, or in some cases, the debris might be “live” and could still explode.
  • Ensure all children have adult supervision.

The potential long-term severity of fireworks-related injuries can have undesirable outcomes to the body, so remember to enjoy the holiday safely and responsibly and don’t take any unnecessary risks.  

1. Hall JR Jr. Fireworks. Quincy, MA: National Fire Protection Association; 2013.
2. Canner JK, Haider AH, Selvarajah S, et al. US emergency department visits for fireworks injuries, 2006-2010. J Surg Res. 2014;190(1):305e311.
3. Fireworks information center: United States Consumer Product Safety Commission Website. Published 2013. Accessed June 29, 2015.

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