Precaution urged for using fireworks

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 3, 2013

As the July 4th holiday nears, people across the country are gearing up to celebrate with their families and friends.

Independence Day is a holiday with unique safety challenges – namely, fireworks. Americans have enjoyed the thrill of fireworks for centuries, but the fireworks, firecrackers, sparklers and rockets that often appear around July 4th can be very dangerous, causing severe eye injuries, burns, loss of limbs and, even, death. According to the National Fire Protection Association, more than 60 percent of all fireworks injuries occur around July 4th.

In fact, the U.S. Consumer Product and Safety Commission reported that more than 5,000 people were treated for fireworks-related injuries in hospital emergency rooms in July last year. More than 70 percent of injuries were to the eyes, head, face, ears, hands and fingers. Six people died as a result of fireworks-related injuries.

“The Fourth of July is a wonderful opportunity to spend time with family and friends celebrating our country, its history, and our service men and women” said Mark Griffin, M.D., Andalusia Regional Hospital Emergency Department medical director. “Unfortunately, emergency rooms across the country see a spike in patients due to fireworks injuries every July. We urge everyone to take precautions to ensure their safety and the safety of their children this year.”

Andalusia Regional Hospital urges residents to refrain from using consumer fireworks at home. Approximately 98 percent of fireworks injuries in 2012 occurred at private celebrations.

Andalusia Regional Hospital also discourages the use of sparklers. These seemingly harmless sticks can cause very serious injuries. The tip of a sparkler burns at a temperature of more than 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, which is six-times the temperature of boiling water and hot enough to cause third-degree burns.

For those who do celebrate with fireworks, ARH recommends the following precautions:

• Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks, and ensure that an adult is always present to supervise fireworks activities.

• Keep a bucket of water or hose close by in case of a fire.

• Avoid fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a signal of fireworks that are strictly for professional displays.

• Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.

• Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse.

• Never point or throw fireworks at another person or carry fireworks in your pocket.

• Never shoot off fireworks in metal or glass containers.

• Never attempt to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.

• After fireworks complete their burning, douse the fireworks with water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.