News | Published July 2, 2015 | Written by Rich Kelley, NREMT-P, EMS clinical supervisor, Mount Nittany Medical Center

Celebrate safely: fireworks can cause severe injuries, even death

Synonymous with the Fourth of July, fireworks are often used at celebrations among friends and family this time of year. Although pretty, fireworks can be extremely dangerous if proper care is not taken. Here’s a list of things to keep in mind if you plan to use or be around fireworks this summer:

  • Before lighting a firework, you should always read the warning label carefully and follow all directions.
  • It’s important to always buy from a legal, reputable seller. Legal fireworks will have a label with the manufacturer’s name and directions for use. Many times, illegal fireworks are not labeled. Some names of illegal fireworks include, but are not limited to, M80, M100, Roman candle, blockbuster or quarterpounder.
  • Similarly, you should never try to make your own fireworks, as this can be extremely dangerous.
  • Fireworks should be lit outdoors only, never indoors. Also make sure that you’re away from buildings, plants and any combustible material. Fireworks can backfire or shoot off in the wrong direction, so never point a firework toward someone or a building. Choose a flat area or a concrete surface. Avoid grassy areas and brush, as this can start a fire.
  • When lighting a firework, it’s always important to have water nearby in case of an accident.
  • Lighting only one firework at a time can help keep everyone safe. Never light a firework in a glass or metal container.
  • If you light a firework and it does not work, wait 15 to 20 minutes and then dump the firework in a bucket of water. Do not try to relight it. Additionally, after a firework has been used, you should still soak it in a bucket of water before throwing it in a trashcan for disposal.
  • Responsible adults should be the only ones handling fireworks. Small children should never handle or light fireworks. Even seemingly small fireworks such as firecrackers, rockets and sparklers can be very dangerous. Sparklers can reach 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit, a temperature hot enough to melt gold.
  • Fireworks are not something that should be stored for future use. If you absolutely must store them, make sure they’re in a cool and dry place, out of the reach of children. Never keep fireworks in your pocket, as friction could set them off unintentionally.
  • Remember, no part of your body should be over a firework while lighting it. This can be very dangerous. It’s also recommended that eye protection be worn before lighting a firework.
  • If you plan to travel by plane over the holiday weekend or any other time, remember that fireworks are forbidden in both carry-on and checked baggage. You also are not allowed to mail or ship fireworks as air parcels.
  • Remember that your pets are part of the family too, and animals may be scared of the loud noises that fireworks can produce. Keep pets indoors when lighting fireworks so that the risk of injury is reduced.
  • If a firework injures you or your child, immediately seek help from a physician or hospital. For eye injuries, do not rub or touch the eye as this may cause more damage.

Remember, celebrating the Fourth of July should not be dangerous or harmful to your health. The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public fireworks display that is managed by professionals.