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Top tips for fireworks safety

‘Tis the season for fireworks – and injuries caused by fireworks. Each year, fireworks send some 30,000 people to emergency rooms. “Most firework injuries are burns involving the face, hand or eyes,” says Sean Sue, M.D., physician with Emergency Services physician at Piedmont Hospital. “Many of these burns are first-degree and second-degree burns.” As you celebrate your Fourth of July, keep in mind these safety tips from the National Council on Fireworks Safety.

  • Use fireworks outdoors only.
  • Only use fireworks as intended. Don't try to alter them or combine them.
  • Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
  • Use common sense. Spectators should keep a safe distance from the shooter, and the shooter should wear safety glasses.
  • Only children over the age of 12 should be allowed to handle sparklers of any type.
  • Do not ever use homemade fireworks. Report illegal explosives to the fire or police department.
  • Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Have a “designated shooter.”
  • Obey local laws. If fireworks are not legal where you live, do not use them.
  • Always have a water hose or bucket of water handy.

Dr. Sue emphasizes the importance of watching children around fireworks. “Teach your children about the dangers of fireworks and other explosives,” he says. “Make sure they and other spectators are out of range before lighting fireworks.”

If you want the safest fireworks celebration, Dr. Sue recommends attending a community fireworks display where professionals handle the fireworks. “This allows for both a fun and safe activity,” he adds. For more information on fireworks safety, the National Council on Fireworks Safety is a great resource.

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