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How can I use fireworks safely?

Dr. Leigh Vinocur, MD
Emergency Medicine Specialist

The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that over two-thirds of injuries from fireworks occur from June 19 to July 19. The best way to be safe and still enjoy the holiday is to leave the fireworks up to the professionals.

However, if you insist on doing it yourself, make sure you buy legal fireworks as well as making sure it is legal in your state. And here are some other safety tips to remember:

  • If you are going to do it yourself, buy fireworks from a reputable dealer and read the labels.
  • Light only one at a time.
  • Keep a bucket of water and fire extinguisher handy.
  • Don't give any fireworks to children, including sparklers that heat up to blowtorch temperatures.
  • Never light them in a container that can explode and produce flying fragments and shrapnel.
  • Never try to re-light or handle fireworks that don't go off or malfunction.

Every year many children and adults suffer from injuries caused by fireworks, such as burns and eye injuries. The National Council of Fireworks Safety recommends that fireworks only be utilized by adults.

It is also recommended that you keep the following tips in mind when handling fireworks:

  • Wear closed-toe shoes.
  • Light only one at a time.
  • Stand while using one and never run with it lit.
  • Keep sparklers at arm’s length.
  • Don’t hold your child while using fireworks.
  • Always make sure to read and follow the label’s instructions and warnings.
  • Never leave children alone with fireworks.
  • Never let children light the fireworks.
  • When choosing where to light them, choose a smooth, flat surface away from pets, houses, dry leaves and people.
  • Always have water handy.
  • Never take a firework apart.
  • Do not re-light a “dud” or carry them in your pockets.
  • Make sure to dispose of used fireworks in a bucket of water.

It's important to use fireworks safely. Some tips:

  • Do not mix fireworks.
  • Never use flame accelerants.
  • Only set off fireworks in a wide open area.

A report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says an average of 200 American go to the emergency room each day with fireworks-related injuries in the 30 days surrounding the Fourth of July. By taking a few precautions, you can significantly decrease the risk of your family or friends becoming injured. Follow these safety tips:

  • Observe the law. Lighting fireworks is prohibited in many communities. Check with your local police or fire departments before lighting fireworks at home.
  • Buy only legal fireworks (legal fireworks will be labeled with the manufacturer's name and directions for use). Never make your own fireworks.
  • Read and follow all warnings and instructions on packaging.
  • Young children should never play with fireworks. Children do not understand the danger involved and cannot react appropriately in case of emergency. 
  • Fill a bucket with water or sand, set up a water hose and always have a fire extinguisher on hand.
  • Young children should wear ear muffs to prevent any damage to the ear drum.
  • Animals have sensitive ears too and can be extremely frightened or stressed by fireworks. Keep pets indoors to reduce the risk that they'll run away or get injured.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.