Fireworks are fun to watch, exciting to hear, and a wonderful way to mark a special occasion. Most people have fond memories of watching a dizzying display of starburst fireworks light up the night sky. Others, unfortunately, may recall a trip to the hospital emergency room because of a fireworks-related injury.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, approximately 9,200 people are treated annually for injures caused by fireworks. More than 45 percent of injuries are to the head, while 37 percent of injuries are to the hand or finger. The majority of fireworks injuries, 55 percent, are burns, and 30 percent are bruises and cuts. Children under the age of 15 account for one-third of people injured by fireworks. The types of fireworks most likely to cause an injury include firecrackers, sparklers, Roman candles, reloadables, and bottle rockets.
Sparklers may be pretty to look at, but they are not appropriate for children. This popular firework accounts for one-third of injuries to children under five years old. Water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, wood burns at 575, and glass melts at 900. The tip of a sparkler, however, burns at 1200, which is hot enough to cause third-degree burns.
The safest way to watch fireworks is at a professional show, not by setting off fireworks at home. When viewing a fireworks display, respect the safety barriers and select a safe viewing distance of at least 500 feet away. If you know someone who is planning a fireworks show of their own, you may want to share these safety tips:
· Make sure fireworks are legal in your area.
· Children should not be allowed to play with fireworks.
· Watch children closely when setting off fireworks.
· Only adults should light fireworks.
· Keep an extinguisher, hose, or bucket of water nearby.
· Do not light fireworks inside or near dry vegetation.
· Do not pick up a firework that has not gone off. Do not try to relight it. Douse it with water and dispose of it.
· Read the directions on fireworks before setting them off.
· Stand several feet away from lit fireworks.
· Do not light more than one firework at a time.
· Do not wear loose-fitting clothing when lighting fireworks.
Several states have banned the sale of fireworks to the public, including Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island. Federal law prohibits the sale of any firecracker that has more than 50 milligrams of explosive powder and any aerial firework with more than 130 milligrams of flash powder.
In addition to potential personal injury, fireworks can cause physical damage as well. Fireworks are associated with approximately 1,800 structure fires and 700 vehicle fires each year. More fires in the United States are reported on Independence Day than any other day of the year; fireworks cause half of these fires.
If you experience a fireworks-related injury, visit our ER or Urgent Care Center.