Few holiday traditions are as exciting–or as dangerous–as 4th of July fireworks. In the US, of the 11,400 fireworks related injuries requiring a visit to the ER, 1 in 6 of these injuries harmed the eyes according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. However, there’s no need to miss the show. Just being familiar with a few tips on how to avoid danger can ensure a safe and happy Independence Day holiday for your family.
Fireworks Safety Tips
- Never let your kids set fireworks off themselves, even sparklers. Sparklers burn at up to 2000 degrees Fahrenheit, that’s 10 times the temperature of boiling water. They also account for 31% of fireworks related injuries.
- Respect the safety perimeters at fireworks shows and keep at least 500 feet away. Nearly half of people injured by fireworks are bystanders, not just those handling fireworks, so stay alert during fireworks shows.
The AAO (American Academy of Ophthalmology) advises against purchasing fireworks for home use, but if you live in a state where they are legal and you decide you still are going to set some off, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Be sure to always wear protective eyewear that meets the American National Standards Institute’s standards and make sure bystanders are doing the same.
- Never pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully or try to re-light them.
- Avoid buying fireworks packaged in brown paper as these are often professional grade and too dangerous for consumer use. Also, only buy from a licensed store, tent or stand. Never make your own!
- Light fireworks one at a time, outdoors, and in a clear area away from flammable materials. Then move back quickly.
- No part of your body should be over a firework while lighting it.
- Never light fireworks in a container, especially a metal or glass one.
- Keep buckets of water handy in case of fire and be sure to fully douse any spent fireworks before discarding.
What to do for a fireworks related eye injury
- Go straight to the hospital
- Do not rub, rinse, or apply pressure to your eyes.
- Do not try and remove objects stuck in the eye. Hold or tape a foam cup or bottom of a juice carton to protect the eye from further contact.
- Do not take pain medication such as aspirin or ibuprofen as this can make the bleeding worse.
- Do not apply ointment. It may not be sterile and makes the area slippery during a doctor’s exam.
There are many resources available if you would like to learn more. To see the Consumer Public Safety Commission’s Fireworks Injuries Infographic, click here. For a list of fireworks laws by state, click here. And to take the National Council on Fireworks Safety’s knowledge of fireworks safety quiz, click here.
We hope these fireworks safety tips help ensure an enjoyable Independence Day!