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Fireworks – Be Careful of the Bang!

Taking a look at the calendar ahead brings many happy thoughts to mind: The Fourth of July holiday, fireworks and vacation!  Yes, Independence Day brings excitement to many with the anticipation of upcoming travel plans, backyard barbecues and firework to watch and light off…

Independence Day is an American tradition. The holiday is honored across our great nation with celebrations and firework displays throughout many communities. Children and adults alike are intrigued by the brilliant, dazzling fireworks that entertain and light up the sky!  Public displays are supervised and lit by trained professionals; but what happens when explosive fireworks are put into the hands of non-professionals?

Fireworks such as sparklers are often thought to be safe and kid-friendly; however, this is not true. Sparklers can reach temperatures above 2000 degrees Fahrenheit, which can cause burns to the user or bystanders, some of which can be severe. Fireworks are not toys; they are dangerous explosives that can cause bodily harm if not supervised and handled properly.

Each year, the orthopedic surgeons at Hand to Shoulder Center of Wisconsin treat many hand injuries caused by fireworks. Some of which include amputated fingers and hands from improper use. Many injuries include burns or a combination of burns with blast injuries. To help prevent such injuries, we have provided a list of safety guidelines in an attempt to keep your Fourth of July celebration injury free.

Firework Safety Guidelines

  • Obey all federal and state laws – each state has unique rules and regulations regarding the use, possession and distribution of fireworks. Know the law.
  • Adults only – the vast number of firework-related injuries happen to children under the age of 15. Understanding the danger of the explosive firework is highly important; adults should do the handling of the fireworks to decrease the chances of injury in children.
  • Never allow children to play with or light fireworks, even sparklers.
  • Never hold onto a firecracker or any other type of firework.
  • Use fireworks outdoors in a clear, open area. Light on flat surface, and never attempt to relight a “dud.”
  • Know your fireworks: Read cautionary and performance descriptions before igniting.
  • Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Save the alcohol for after the show.
  • Wear safety glasses when shooting off fireworks.
  • Have a fire extinguisher or bucket of water or hose nearby when using fireworks.
  • Use long match sticks or elongated lighter. Once lit, keep your distance.
  • Do not attempt to make your own fireworks by combining explosive materials.
  • Do not point fireworks in the direction of another person, animal or building.
  • Never shorten or lengthen the fuse.
  • Do not carry fireworks in your pocket: The friction could set them off.
  • Store fireworks at a safe distance from lighting area.
  • Dispose of spent fireworks by soaking them in water. Once thoroughly soaked, dispose of them in the trash can.
  • Report illegal explosives to the fire or police department.

Unfortunately, with the explosive bang or the use of fireworks, injuries can occur. Let’s keep in mind the possibility of injury and remember to proceed with caution when handling fireworks. As the great Benjamin Franklin once said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. “

Keep your Fourth of July safe with awareness and by using caution when lighting off fireworks. Or better yet, let’s leave lighting the fireworks to the professionals.

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