The Crusader Newspaper Group

Don’t let fireworks injuries ruin your July 4th celebrations

By Dawn O’Polka,

A July 4th celebration wouldn’t be complete without fireworks. The boom and dazzle are often the high point of family celebrations on beaches across America. But an unexpected firework injury can spoil it all. Every year, the improper use of fireworks causes both minor and serious injuries over the 4th of July weekend. In 2014, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reported 11 deaths and 10,000 injuries because of fireworks. Of those injuries, 23 percent were related to sparklers and bottle rockets.

According to Dr. Brian Sayger, chairman of emergency medicine at Advocate Children’s Hospital and Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill., the most common type of injuries he sees over the July 4th weekend are burns, contusions, lacerations and foreign objects in the eye caused from improper use of fireworks. “It’s important to remember that fireworks are actually explosives. They can have an unpredictable course of detonation. Many times, improper assembly or faulty fuse lines will cause the firework to explode prematurely or travel on an unintended path,” says Dr. Sayger. “Although most of the firework injuries we see are fairly minor, they could have been avoided with proper use. Other firework injuries are very serious. Almost every year, I see at least one very serious injury from Class B fireworks, like an M-80. Although they are illegal, people get ahold of them. These fireworks are very dangerous because they can explode in the person’s hand causing very serious damage.”

The dangerous nature of fireworks highlights the need for parents to closely supervise kids and use caution while handling fireworks.

So, as the 4th of July approaches and we grab our blankets and bug spray to go watch the fireworks show, check out these safety tips from the National Council on Firework Safety and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • Know your fireworks; read the cautionary labels and performance descriptions before igniting.
  • Make sure there is adult supervision for all firework activities and never give fireworks to children.
  • Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Save your alcohol for after the show.
    Wear safety glasses when shooting fireworks.
  • Light one firework at a time and then quickly move away.
  • Only use fireworks outdoors in a clear area; away from buildings and vehicles.
  • Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
  • Never carry fireworks in your pocket or shoot them into metal or glass containers.
  • Always have a bucket of water and charged water hose nearby.
  • Do not experiment with homemade fireworks.
  • Dispose of spent fireworks by wetting them down and placing them in a metal trash can
  • away from any building or combustible materials until the next day.
  • FAA regulations prohibit the possession and transportation of fireworks in your checked baggage or carry-on luggage.
  • Obey all local fireworks laws and report illegal explosives, like M-80s and quarter sticks, to the fire or police department.

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