It’s that time of year! The days are just a little bit longer, the
weather warms up just enough, cookouts become a weekly ritual, and soon
we will all delight in the ohhs and ahhs that accompany the annual Fourth
of July fireworks displays. Sadly, though, fireworks are a source of a
lot of injuries. Last year, St. Joseph Health’s facilities treated
many holiday-related injuries on and around Independence Day that involved
the use of fireworks—burns from lighting or touching fireworks,
falls sustained while running with fireworks, and being struck by objects
such as a pinwheel that comes apart.
“There is no such thing as ‘safe and sane’ fireworks,” says
Brenda Manfredi, MD, a board-certified family medicine physician at
Annadel Medical Group and
St. Joseph Health, Sonoma County. “That’s what it may say on the box, but all that means is
that they don’t explode or produce aerial effects. Fireworks sold
under the ‘safe and sane’ banner, like sparklers, fountains,
and snakes are still perfectly capable of inflicting burns.”
Take sparklers, for example. Often considered one of the safest fireworks,
sparklers can reach 1,200 degrees. They join firecrackers and rockets
(which are illegal throughout California) in causing the bulk of emergency
room-treated injuries. These injuries most commonly involve the hands,
fingers, eyes, and head, and can sometimes result in amputations, blindness
or even death. “It may be fun to watch children get excited and
wave sparklers around, but many parents overestimate their children’s
ability to handle fireworks, creating a dangerous environment for everyone
involved,” says Dr. Manfredi.
“If you can’t resist putting on your own display, be careful
and use common sense, and only do so if it’s legal,” Dr. Manfredi adds.
Before your family celebrates with a neighborhood fireworks show, check
the fireworks safety laws in your area. To see if your city is one of
the 296 communities in California that allow state-approved fireworks
to be bought and used on Fourth of July 4, click
here. In Texas, several types of fireworks are permitted that are illegal in
California (like firecrackers), but local laws vary greatly; check with
your fire department, city, or county for restrictions on possession and use.
Also, be sure everyone knows these fireworks safety tips:
- Only adults should handle fireworks. Tell children to immediately leave
the area if their friends are using fireworks.
- Discuss safety procedures with your children. Teach children to “stop,
drop and roll” if their clothes catch fire. Make sure they know
how to call 911. Have a bucket of water or fire extinguisher nearby, and
show children how to use them to put out fireworks.
- Read labels and carefully follow directions. All legal fireworks carry
a warning label describing necessary safety precautions.
- Never use fireworks indoors.
- Be sure spectators are out of range before lighting fireworks.
- Never aim or throw fireworks at another person.
- Never place your face or any other body part over fireworks.
- Never try to reignite fireworks that malfunction.
- Never carry fireworks in your pocket.
- Light fireworks only on a smooth, flat surface away from the house, dry
leaves and flammable materials.
“Even following all safety tips does not guarantee an injury-free
home fireworks show,” cautions Dr. Manfredi. “For a celebration
that’s more exciting than a block party, and as safe as possible,
take your family to an official public fireworks display put on professionals.”
That’s a much safer way for your family to enjoy the pyrotechnics;
and besides, you don’t have to clean up the mess afterwards.
Learn more about
Dr. Manfredi. Learn more about
Annadel Medical Group.
St. Joseph Health, Sonoma County, is partnering with Safe Kids Sonoma County to encourage families to practice
safe summer habits. For more information on injury prevention programs
at St. Joseph Health, Sonoma County click
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical
care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.