For many Americans, the Fourth of July is the most festive part of the summer. While backyard barbeques and block parties are frequent highlights, fireworks are traditionally amongst the most popular of activities.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) urges revelers to follow safety precautions when using fireworks to avoid injury to body parts like hands, arms or even the face.
A significant number of injuries due to fireworks are reported every year, including in states where consumer fireworks are against the law. In 2016, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), fireworks caused:
More than 25,000 injuries treated among people of all ages, including 11,133 emergency department visits.
Total medical expenses of more than $61 million.
“Acknowledging the dangers of fireworks is the first step to preventing injuries caused
by them,” said AAOS spokesperson and orthopaedic hand and wrist specialist Brandon Elizabeth Earp, MD. “People are at serious risk of losing a finger and other debilitating injuries when using fireworks. Always follow precautions or consider watching a professional fireworks show instead of lighting your own.”
Follow these simple tips to ensure safety for yourself and for those around you:
1. Check with your local police department to determine if fireworks are legal in your area. If so, find out which types, and also verify that there is not a burn ban in effect in your community for fire hazard conditions.
2. Never purchase or use illegal fireworks. Their quality cannot be assured.
3. Only adults should light fireworks.
4. Always have water handy in case of a fire, such as a hose hooked to a faucet or a nearby bucket of water.
5. Wear safety eyewear when using fireworks.
6. Soak used fireworks in water before discarding to prevent unintentional fires.
7. Never try to relight a firework.
8. If you are injured using fireworks, seek immediate medical attention.
9. Never allow young children to play with or go near fireworks, including sparklers. They
seem harmless but sparklers can reach temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees.
10. Never handle fireworks if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.