The Fourth of July is a time for celebration and for many, this means the enjoyment of fireworks! Fireworks are believed to have been invented in China over 1,000 years ago. There are 3 types of fireworks – firecrackers, sparklers, and aerial fireworks. All three types light the night sky with colorful explosions and sparks in a variety of different colors and formations.
While the use and launching of fireworks is a fun and thrilling activity, fireworks are still explosive devices that need to be handled with caution. Fireworks produce dangerous levels of heat, light, and sound energy and are responsible for several visits to the ER during the holiday time. Fireworks can cause severe burns and other injuries that can lead to scarring, hospitalizations, surgeries, and amputations. Typically, these injuries occur to the hands, wrists, and forearms. No matter which type of firework you are planning to enjoy this holiday season, it is important to understand proper handling techniques.
- Wear protective eye-wear – anytime you are lighting flammable materials, it is important to protect your eyes.
- Purchase responsibly – always purchase your fireworks from a reliable source and check with your local authorities to understand the regulations of use in your area.
- Seek immediate treatment for injury – it is important to seek medical attention immediately following an injury from a firework. Leaving a burn or injury untreated can further damage the area impacted.
- Read the label and follow instructions – never assume that you know how to utilize a particular firework. Always read the label to understand proper use.
- Douse used fireworks in water following use – Always douse fireworks and firework debris in water before properly disposing of the item. Even if the debris from fireworks appears to be safe to touch, it may still be extremely hot and can cause severe burns. Water will cool the materials to ensure safe handling.
- Never attempt to relight fireworks that did not go off – the relighting of a “dud” or unexploded firework is not recommended. Instead, wait 20 minutes and place the firework in water.
- Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks – fireworks carry a large amount of responsibility and should only be handled by adults.
- Never point fireworks at a person or animal – protect those around you by being aware of your surroundings when launching fireworks.
- Never stand over fireworks when lighting them – fireworks can go off at any second so keep your distance and remain in a safe handling position.
- Stay 500 feet away from the launch area when enjoying a firework show – it is safest to enjoy fireworks that are handled by the professionals. Keep your distance and enjoy the show from 500 feet.
If you or someone you know has been injured by a firework, go to the Emergency Room immediately for care. Iowa Ortho always has a hand surgeon on call at the MercyOne ER 24/7 who will help you receive the best treatment for your firework injury.