Thousands of Americans, many of them children, are injured each year in incidents associated with fireworks, according to the National Council of Fireworks Safety. Most of these injuries occur during the Fourth of July holiday and include serious burns, loss of fingers and blindness. Seven thousand fireworks-related injuries were reported in 2008, the lowest figure in more than ten years.
Though the most disabling injuries occur with illegal firecrackers, such as M-80s, the majority of injuries are caused by bottle rockets, sparklers and Roman candles.
Viewing public displays handled by professionals is the safest way to enjoy fireworks on the Fourth of July. Even then, keep a safe distance away.
If you plan to celebrate the holiday with your own fireworks, these precautions can help prevent injuries:
Don't let children play with the fireworks.
Never place any part of your body over a fireworks device.
Make sure anyone who handles fireworks wears safety goggles to protect from flying sparks or debris.
Don't use bottle rockets. Their flight paths are often erratic, and rocket launchers sometimes explode, sending pieces of glass or metal flying.
Don't consume alcohol when using fireworks.
Read the cautionary labels.
Don't try to re-light fireworks that have not worked properly.
Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of malfunction or fire.
Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.
Follow label directions.
Ignite fireworks outdoors.
Light only one at a time.
Buy from reliable fireworks sellers.
Never give fireworks to small children.
Never carry fireworks in your pocket.
If an accident injures someone's eyes, these actions can help protect the victim's sight:
Don't delay medical attention, even if the injury seems minor.
Don't attempt to rinse out the eye. This can be very damaging.
Shield the eye from pressure. Tape or secure the bottom of a foam cup, milk carton or similar shield against the bones surrounding the eye -- the brow, cheek and bridge of the nose.
Don't give the victim aspirin or ibuprofen to try reducing the pain. These thin the blood and might increase bleeding.
Don't apply ointment or any medication. It's probably not sterile.
© 2013 Main Line Health