Fireworks Bring Beauty But Can Be Dangerous

Wednesday, July 1, 2009 15:21

Simple Safety Tips for July 4th Fireworks

By Barbara Ficarra, RN, BSN, MPA

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If you gather to watch fireworks this July 4th chances are you’ll hear many ooh’s and aah’s among the crowd as they watch the spectacular bursts of colors glowing in the sky.

Leave it to the pros

While fireworks are part of celebrating Independence Day, shooting off fireworks should be left to the professionals, even if they are legal in your neck of the woods.

“I think the safest and best way to enjoy the 4th is to watch a professional display,” said Dr. Rick Blum, president of ACEP.  “For those folks who can buy legal fireworks in their community, I recommend extreme caution, especially if children are present.”  “I’ve seen cases where a few minutes of well-intentioned fun has resulted in lifelong disabilities.”

Be cautious of illegal fireworks

“Fireworks can be used safely by trained adults, but illegal firecrackers or ones that are used improperly present substantial risks,” said James C. Krieg, MD orthopaedic surgeon specializing in trauma and spokesperson for the AAOS.  “If fireworks misfire or explode prematurely, the extreme amount of force can tear or destroy tissue, including bones and nerves, causing permanent damage.”

Even sparklers can be dangerous

Fireworks while glorious to watch can be extremely dangerous and even sparklers which seem innocent can be extremely dangerous.  Temperatures can reach more than 1,000 degrees.

Injuries

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that in 2007 about 9,800 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries associated with fireworks. More than half the injuries were burns and most of the injuries involved the hands, eyes, and legs.

If fireworks are legal in your community, ACEP strongly suggests you do not use fireworks at your home.

Fireworks do’s and don’ts will help make it a safer experience

DO’S:

  • Buy fireworks from reputable dealers
  • Read warning labels and follow all instructions
  • Keep a bucket of water or fire extinguisher on hand
  • Light fireworks one at a time
  • Dispose of all fireworks properly

DON’TS:

  • Give any fireworks, including sparklers, to small children
  • Older children should be supervised by an adult
  • Light fireworks indoors or near other objects
  • Wear loose clothing while using any fireworks
  • Set off fireworks in glass or metal containers- the fragments can cause severe injury
  • Try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks

I hope you have a fantastic fun and exciting 4th of July and I hope you’ll find some spectacular fireworks to watch.  Remember to leave it to the pros, but if fireworks are legal in your area and you do decide to display some, make sure you follow these simple safety precautions.

Be careful and stay safe!  Happy July 4th!  🙂

For more info:

American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP)

The National Council on Firework Safety

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS)

Consumer Product Safety Commission

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