Fireworks can be enjoyed any time throughout the year and are most often used to mark special occasions that include holidays, parades and other special events.
Along with the festivities, however, are fireworks-related trips to emergency rooms, which occur all too often and sometimes lead to loss of life, limbs or eyesight.
In 2013, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that eight people died and about 11,400 were injured badly enough to require medical treatment after fireworks-related incidents. The UK’s Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents reports close to 1,000 fireworks-related injuries each year.
Surprisingly enough, the firework that causes the most injuries is the sparkler, followed by firecrackers and bottle rockets. According to the UK Fire Service Resources Group, sparklers get five times hotter than cooking oil. The organization warns that they are not toys and should never be given to a child under the age of five.
These small rockets, attached to a stick, are lit by a fuse and fired from a bottle. Physicians at Vanderbilt Eye Institute at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center have seen so many bottle rocket-induced eye injuries that they conducted a study in hopes to lead to better fireworks safety-related education and legislation.
Designed to explode on the ground, firecrackers are noisy and can cause burns and other serious injuries. These should never be held when lighted.
These eject multiple exploding shells from a tube that users hold by hand. Reports state that users—often children—lose fingers or eyesight and can suffer severe burns, particularly when devices get jammed.
The National Safety Council (NSC) suggests staying away from all consumer fireworks and instead to enjoy them at public displays conducted by professionals.
If fireworks are legal where you live and you choose to use them, make sure to follow the following safety tips, provided by the NSC:
- Never allow young children to handle fireworks
- Only allow older children to use them with adult supervision
- If handling fireworks or standing close by, wear protective eyewear
- Never light them indoors
- Only use fireworks away from people, houses and flammable material
- Only light one device at a time
- Maintain a safe distance after lighting a firework
- Do not re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks
- Never ignite devices in a container
- Soak unused fireworks in water before discarding
- Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don’t go off or in case of fire