Kim Schutterle, M.D.
Speaking of HealthTips to keep your Halloween safeOctober 24, 2017
Independence Day has been celebrated with firework displays since the 1770s. Public shows are available in large and small communities, and some families plan private celebrations as well. As you celebrate, remember to exercise extreme caution when using the devices, as deaths and injuries occur every year.
In 2020, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reported 18 deaths from direct impact of fireworks, and more than 15,000 injuries were treated at emergency departments in the U.S.
Hands and arms are the site of injuries in about 40% of cases. These types of injuries often occur when people hold onto lit fireworks. Sparklers also cause burns to hands and arms, especially in small children
Eyes are especially susceptible to injury from fireworks as well. Eye wounds account for about 15% of fireworks-related injuries from the gunpowder, sulfur and charcoal that make up most fireworks.
If an eye injury occurs, a person's instinct might be to rinse the eyes, but people shouldn't rinse, rub or apply pressure to the eyes. Doing so may result in irritants, such as charcoal or gunpowder, to move around the eye and cause further damage. Instead, you should seek immediate medical attention.
I recommend these safety tips to people who choose to include fireworks in their private celebrations:
- Be sure to read all safety information and instructions for proper use.
- Keep small children away from fireworks.
- Only use fireworks in an open area that is far from animals, buildings, brush or any combustible materials.
- Light one device at a time. Never attempt to relight a device that did not ignite the first time.
- Have a bucket of water nearby to cool used sparkler wires and extinguish other fireworks.
- Never allow anyone under the influence of alcohol or drugs to use fireworks.
- Once you light it, get away quickly. That warning is on firework labels for a reason.