Stay Safe This July 4th

3 min read  |  July 01, 2020  | 

This year people all across the nation will be spending this July 4 at home instead of going to their favorite fireworks display. Because of COVID-19, many cities are choosing to cancel their festivities this year and South Florida counties are closing the beaches. This translates to an increase in fireworks sales and unfortunately it will likely lead to an increase in related injuries.

You see the headlines every year: fingers blown off, burns suffered, fires started. People forget that they are playing with fire … literally. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, at least 12 people died from fireworks-related incidents in 2019.

The commission also reports there were more than 10,000 firework-related injuries, with 30 percent involving hands and fingers. Legs and eyes were also commonly injured.

These fireworks caused more than a quarter of all injuries

Among the different types of fireworks, sparklers were involved in 12% of the estimated injuries during the special study period. Firecrackers, as a whole, were involved in 11%; roman candles, as well as rocket-type devices, were associated with 6% each, the report states.

More than half of the fireworks-related emergency department visits were for individuals younger than five years of age, highlighting how important it is to keep children away from fireworks. That includes sparklers, which many parents do not realize can get up to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit.  To put that into perspective, wood burns at 575 degrees and glass melts at 900.

You can celebrate Independence Day without fireworks, but if you must ignite them, follow these rules (so you don’t lose a finger, or an eye, or worse).

  1. Do not experiment with homemade fireworks.
  2. Don’t hold a firework in your hand as you are trying to light it, and don’t hold a firework that is already lit in your hand.
  3. Wear ear and eye protection, such as earplugs and eyewear, and stay a safe distance from the firework.
  4. Don’t allow children or adolescents to ignite fireworks, that includes sparklers and firecrackers.
  5. Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy, in case of fire, and soak used fireworks before disposal.
  6. Do not point fireworks at other people or buildings before lighting them.
  7. If a firework malfunctions, don’t grab it to or try to relight it. Soak it with water and throw it away.
  8. Do not go near fireworks while intoxicated.

In case of an emergency

  • If a particle gets into your eye, do not touch or rub it. Use lukewarm water to rinse it.
  • If a sharp object enters your eye, do not pull it out. Put a loose bandage over the eye, but do not apply pressure. Go to an ER immediately.
  • If you suffer a burn, do not apply an ointment or put butter or ice on the wound. Cover it and if necessary seek medical attention.

Dr. E. Robert Schwartz, chair of family medicine and community health at the University of Miami Health System, says, “remember the Covid-19 virus doesn’t respect the 4th of July. So, wear your mask, keep safe distances from people, and wash your hands well.”

In addition to these safety measures, keep your neighbors in mind.  Many people have anxiety and other mental disorders that can be triggered by fireworks. Keep the fireworks limited to a specific time and let your neighbors know what that is, they (and their dogs) will appreciate it.

Natasha Bright is a contributing writer for UMiami Health News.

Originally published on: July 03, 2019

Tags: Burns, fireworks safety, Independence Day

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