Declare Independence From Injury This Holiday

As we celebrate the Fourth of July tomorrow, it’s important not to forget fireworks safety. Fireworks help make the holiday fun, but they can be dangerous—an estimated 60 percent of injuries from fireworks happen around Independence Day. In 2011, nearly 10,000 people went to the hospital for fireworks-related injuries. Forty-one percent of those injuries affect the hands and fingers, and nearly a third are to the head and face. Here are some tips to stay safe while having fun:

  • You’re never too young to enjoy fireworks, but kids are too young to use them. Even sparklers can be dangerous—they burn at more than 1,800 degrees.
  • Legal fireworks are more likely to have predictable effects and to be manufactured with safety in mind.
  • Don’t make your own fireworks even if you’re sure you know what you’re doing, unless you have professional-level training in pyrotechnics.
  • Don’t carry or light fireworks in a glass container, which might create shrapnel.
  • If you carry fireworks in your pocket, the friction might set them off.
  • Keep pets indoors
  • Don’t light fireworks while holding them in your hand, or when any part of your body is directly over them.
  • Be sure there’s water nearby, ideally something like a garden hose, and be ready to use it if something goes wrong.
  • Set off fireworks one at a time, then quickly move back.
  • Keep fireworks away from flammable objects such as leaves, your house, and the dog. The rockets’ red glare leads to over 50,000 fires a year.
  • Do not point or throw fireworks and anyone you do not want to severely injure.
  • Put plenty of water on spent fireworks before throwing them away. Do not attempt to reuse spent fireworks.
  • Don’t relight duds, and douse them with water before picking them up.

Fireworks injuries should be treated at the hospital immediately. It may in some cases be possible to reattach things that need reattachment, but the longer the delay, the less likely this is to be possible or successful. do not put ice on a burn, but do run cold water over it. Do not rub an injured eye, which may make the damage worse, and don’t flush it with water at all. Have a safe summer.

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