Fireworks have been a long-standing tradition among many Americans to celebrate Independence Day that colorfully disrupt the night sky with mini-explosions in the form of several shapes, many of which leave people in awe.
While many have begun planning for gatherings, cook-outs, or even curating private firework shows, emergency physicians urge people to take precautionary measures to avoid an unwanted trip to the hospital.
“July Fourth should be a fun chance to gather with family and friends,” said Gillian Schmitz, MD, FACEP, president of ACEP. “This is also a busy time for emergency physicians who will treat many avoidable injuries and burns.”
According to a 2021 report from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there were 1,500 injuries related to firecrackers, while 1,100 were related to sprinklers. About 74 percent of those injuries were reported in the weeks before and after the July 4th holiday.
“We hope everyone has a safe and happy Independence Day,” said Dr. Schmitz. “But if the celebration goes awry, the nation’s emergency physicians are ready for anything and working 24/7, even on holidays. Do not hesitate to visit the closest emergency department in a medical emergency.”
According to the American Red Cross, the safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public firework show put on by professionals. Stay at least 500 feet away from the show.
The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) Emergency physicians recommend leaving fireworks to the professionals, but there are some safety considerations for anyone who decides on their own celebrations:
1. Buy fireworks from a reputable seller and read all the warnings and safety instructions.
2. Keep a hose, bucket of water, and fire extinguisher nearby in case of a fire.
3. Young children should never handle fireworks, containers burning gel fuels, or sparklers.
4. Only light one at a time, then move away. Do not stand over an ignited firework.
5. Never light fireworks in a container because they can explode and send shrapnel flying.
6. Do not launch fireworks at anyone and avoid horseplay near flammable items.
7. Avoid re-lighting or handling fireworks that malfunction. Soak fireworks in water after they are done burning and throw them away. Placing dry fireworks in a trash can is a fire hazard.
8. Do not use fireworks under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Nearly half (44%) of the firework-related deaths in 2020 involved impaired individuals, according to the CPSC.