The 4th of July is rapidly approaching, and for many people that means enjoying fireworks with friends and family. Fireworks are certainly beautiful, but they can also be dangerous. While enjoying the holiday, it’s important to remember that fireworks are explosives and should be treated as such.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission(1), there were an estimated 7,000 fireworks related injuries treated in emergency departments across the US between June 20th and July 20th, 2014. Of these 7,000 injuries, about 19% were injuries to the eyes. The most common eye injuries were contusions, lacerations, and foreign bodies in the eyes.
Fireworks should always be treated with caution, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy them! The safest way to enjoy fireworks is by leaving the show to the professionals and going to see a public fireworks display.
To learn about firework laws in your state, the American Pyrotechnics Association has a directory on their website: http://www.americanpyro.com/state-law-directory.
If you do choose to set off fireworks, there are precautions you can take to help keep everyone safe. The following tips are from the National Council on Fireworks Safety(2):
- Obey all local laws regarding the use of fireworks.
- Know your fireworks; read the cautionary labels and performance descriptions before igniting.
- A responsible adult SHOULD supervise all firework activities. Never give fireworks to children.
- Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Save your alcohol for after the show.
- Wear safety glasses when shooting fireworks.
- Light one firework at a time and then quickly move away.
- Use fireworks OUTDOORS in a clear area; away from buildings and vehicles.
- Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
- Always have a bucket of water and charged water hose nearby.
- Never carry fireworks in your POCKET or shoot them into METAL or GLASS containers.
- Do not experiment with homemade fireworks.
- Dispose of spent fireworks by wetting them down and place in a metal trash can away from any building or combustible materials until the next day.
- FAA regulations PROHIBIT the possession and transportation of fireworks in your checked baggage or carry-on luggage.
- Report illegal explosives, like M-80s and quarter sticks, to the fire or police department.
Even when you’re being careful, it’s still possible for an accident to occur. If you or anyone else is injured by a firework, seek medical attention immediately. For eye injuries, make sure you follow these guidelines from the American Academy of Ophthalmology(3) to prevent further damage to the eye:
- Do not rub your eyes.
- Do not rinse your eyes.
- Do not apply pressure.
- Do not remove any objects that are stuck in the eye.
- Do not apply ointments or take any blood-thinning pain medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen.
We hope you enjoy a safe and fun 4th of July!