Independence Day and fireworks always go together.  Since laypeople can obtain very powerful fireworks, it is important to beware of the dangers they pose. In 2021, about 11,500 people were injured and nine people died from using fireworks. Of those injuries, 1,100 came from “sparklers” which are among the safer options.

If you choose to fire fireworks as part of your celebration this year, here are some tips to keep you and your family safe.

How can you be safe from fireworks?

  1. Have a source of water and/or a fire extinguisher nearby. Do not use fireworks unless you have a way to extinguish a fire. Furthermore, check for burn bans in the region prior to deploying any fireworks, as many travel farther than you can hope to reach and extinguish before a fire can burn out of control.
  2. Use sparklers with care. Although sparklers seem harmless, many people (especially children) are injured by them every year. Sparklers burn at a whopping 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and can easily burn the skin or eyes, even through clothing, in a matter of seconds. They are common causes of minor burns, especially for babies and young children who can’t resist touching the burning material.  The more concerning injuries usually involve bits of burning metal landing in the eyes which can cause serious injury.  Always wear eye protection when burning sparklers and closely supervise your children.
  3. Avoid drug and alcohol consumption. Drugs and alcohol intentionally cause impaired judgment and coordination and increase the likelihood of risky decisions. This not only puts you in danger, but it puts others in danger as well.
  4. Handle “duds” carefully. Fireworks that don’t ignite properly still pose a risk. Wait at least 5 minutes before attempting to pour water on the defective firework — and never try to relight them.
  5. Stick to firing one at a time. Some fuses burn faster than others, and injury can occur when you assume the time of ignition.
  6. Keep pets away from fireworks. Not only can the loud explosions stress your pets out, but they may unintentionally eat a firework or cause an accident. It is best to keep them inside with something to distract them.
  7. Never use fireworks indoors. Fireworks are meant to only be used outdoors.
  8. Keep your distance. If not lighting fireworks, keep a safe distance away to minimize the risk of injury.  Never light a firework while holding it in your hand nor point one at another person.
  9. Dispose of used and extra fireworks properly. Both used and unused fireworks must be doused with water to ensure they don’t accidentally ignite.
  10. Do not use fireworks illegally. Fireworks are illegal for private use in certain areas because of the risk of starting a wildfire or disturbing the peace. 
  11. Wear ear and eye protection to avoid damage to your vision or your hearing which can be permanent.

In Case of Emergency

If someone is burned or receives an injury to their eyes or ears while using fireworks, it is best to take them to the nearest emergency room to be examined. Less severe burns can be treated by putting the burn in cool water (not cold) and using vitamin-e cream or aloe vera on the affected area once dry.