by Dr. Rebecca Doise is the Medical Director for the kids E.R. at Women’s & Children’s Hospital

Fireworks are synonymous with the Fourth of July celebration. But, when safety is not a No. 1 priority, the thrill of fireworks can also bring pain. 

The 2016 Fireworks Annual Report from the Consumer Product Safety Commission released in June 2017 indicates fireworks were involved in an estimated 7,600 injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments between June 18 and July 18, 2016.

This Independence Day, the kids E.R. at Women’s & Children’s Hospital encourages the community to prevent fireworks accidents by practicing common sense and following basic safety rules.

All types of fireworks, even sparklers, can cause burns or eye-related and other injuries. Many people don’t realize sparklers can burn at temperatures up to 1,800 degrees, and therefore they aren’t as careful with them as they may be with other types of fireworks.

While most patients with firework-related injuries that we see in the ER can be treated and released, more serious injuries require an overnight stay or transfer to a dedicated burn unit. Nonetheless, most of these injuries can be prevented with proper safety precautions.

Consumer Product Safety Commission Fireworks Safety Guidelines:

  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
  • Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.
  • Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don’t realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 1,800 degrees – hot enough to melt some metals.
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
  • Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
  • After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.