Watching Fourth of July fireworks may be fun, but the most beautiful firework display can turn ugly in an instant when not used safely. Mishandled or malfunctioning fireworks can result in serious burns and even life-threatening injuries.
Last year, Via Christi Regional Burn Center — Kansas’ first and largest verified burn center for adults and children — treated 25 patients with fireworks-related burns and traumatic injuries, including seven whose injuries required admission to the hospital. Of the 25, half were children, including one toddler.
“Safety should always come first when handling fireworks,” said Sarah Fischer, MSN, RN, Burn Program coordinator for Via Christi Regional Burn Center. "To ensure you have a fun and safe Independence Day, take the time to prepare your environment and educate your children."
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.
- Always light only 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.