By Rita R. Robison
Every year when fireworks are brought out to celebrate the Fourth of July, I get nervous. So many things can go wrong.
Fireworks injuries most often resulted in burns to the hands and head, including the eyes, face, and ears. Sparklers, firecrackers, and aerial devices were associated with the most incidents, according to a study by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
The study found that 65 percent of all fireworks injuries in 2011 occured during the 30 days surrounding the Independence Day holiday.
While the majority of fireworks injuries involve emergency room treatment, more severe and fatal injuries occur when consumer use professional-grade and homemade fireworks. Reports of faster-than-expected explosions and unpredictable flight paths of aerial devices have resulted in tragic injuries and death for some consumers.
In the four reported fireworks-related deaths, the victims were killed when illegal devices exploded, causing severe trauma to the head and face; in one case, a decapitation occurred, the commission said in a statement. In other accidents involving professional-grade or homemade devices, victims were severely burned and some lost fingers.
The commission urges consumers who use legal fireworks to take these safety steps:
- Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.
- Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks. Parents may not realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees, which is hot enough to melt some metals.
- Always have an adult closely supervise fireworks activities if older children are allowed to handle 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.
- 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.
- Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
- Never try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them with water and throw them away.
- Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
- 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 stop burning, douse the device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
Using these precautions during Fourth of July celebrations will help you have a safe event. A disfiguring accident or death would be a tragedy for you and your family.