Fourth of July fireworks are fun to watch, but they also can be very dangerous when used unsafely. Serious burns or blast injuries as a result of mishandled or malfunctioning fireworks can cause permanent damage including impairing vision and hearing.
In 2015, according to the Kansas State Fire Marshal’s Office, 137 people were reportedly injured by fireworks, including sparklers. Via Christi Regional Burn Center treated 15 patients of all ages for fireworks injuries, with three being admitted for inpatient care.
“Safety must come first when handling fireworks. Even the most beautiful firework display can turn ugly in an instant. To ensure you have a fun and safe Independence Day, take the time to prepare your environment and educate your children,” Sarah Fischer, BSN, RN, Burn Program Coordinator for Via Christi Regional Burn Center.
If you choose to use fireworks, follow these guidelines:
- Never let young children play with fireworks or sparklers.
- Don’t allow children to pick up spent fireworks after they are ignited. They remain hot for a while and some may still explode at any time.
- Never light fireworks in your hand or near your face.
- Never ignite fireworks in a glass or metal container. The container may explode or shatter, sending shrapnel long distances with great force.
- Keep a bucket of water or hose close by to douse “duds.”
- Never attempt to relight fireworks.
- Ensure mortar/artillery shell tubes are secure and on stable ground to avoid tipping.
- Put all used sparklers in a bucket of water, as they burn at temperatures of more than 1,200 degrees F and may remain hot for a long time.
- Only light one firework at a time and do not group fireworks together.
If an accident involving fireworks occurs, call 911 and keep the patient warm and calm until help arrives.
If clothing catches fire from fireworks:
- Immediately have the person stop, drop and roll until the fire is extinguished.
- Remove clothing, shoes, diapers or jewelry. These may hide burns and retain heat, increasing the skin damage. After removal of items, cover person with a clean, dry sheet.
- Cool the burn with water for a short time.
- Never use ice on a burn. It can cause further injury.