July 3, 2018
Clinical Contributors to this Story
Rajiv Prasad, M.D. contributes to topics such as Emergency Medicine .
By Meghan Higgins
It’s that time of year again, Fourth of July! The season of patriotism, barbeques, red, white and blue, and of course, fireworks.
This is the first year consumers are seeing fireworks in their local retail stores, since Governor Christie signed a bill in June of 2017 legalizing hand-held sparklers, ground-based sparklers, party poppers and snappers, which can be purchased by individuals 16 years of age and older.
While this is good news, the National Fire Protection Association reminds July 4th revelers to celebrate with caution and common sense.
Fireworks start an average of 18,500 fires per year, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s 2015 Fireworks Annual Report by Yongling Tu, found that U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 11,900 people for fireworks related injuries.
Rajiv Prasad, M.D., Emergency Medicine, Bayshore Medical Center, says there are seven things consumers need to know when operating or viewing fireworks to stay safe and avoid injury this Fourth of July.
- Follow all laws. Make sure you read all of the laws surrounding fireworks and be aware of the things you need to comply with. All fireworks have labels on them that provide instructions on how you should light them. Please read them carefully.
- Survey the surrounding area. Be cautious of where the fireworks might land. If you are lighting them outside, there may be other flammable substances such as brush or leaves nearby that could catch fire. Use fireworks in an open, safe area where you are less likely to have flammable substances.
- Practice caution when lighting fireworks. Fireworks should be pointed away from homes and cars prior to being lit. Move back at least 20 feet to view them once they are lit. The further back you are, the safer you and your family will be.
- Supervise children. If children are operating or viewing fireworks, they should be supervised by an adult. Fireworks instructions should be explained carefully and children that are viewing the fireworks should be kept at least 20 feet away from the activities to avoid injury.
- Protect your pet. Each pet has to be individualized, but animals tend to have very sensitive ears and can be easily stressed by fireworks. If you know your pet is easily stressed and doesn’t like loud noises, keep them indoors so they don’t run out into the street, knock things over or injure themselves.
- Keep water nearby. In case of an injury, always keep a small bucket of water or a hose nearby. The water can be used to put out a fire or clean wounds and debris before seeking immediate medical attention.
- Dispose of used fireworks with care. Before you dispose of any fireworks after they’ve taken off, douse them with water. This will help ensure there aren’t any residual elements left inside of them that could potentially light up hours later.
“People enjoy fireworks and want to be part of the celebration,” says Dr. Prasad. “Over the last few years, there has been more and more information being released about the importance of fireworks safety. If it’s done properly, we can keep people safe and out of the emergency room.”