Take Smart Precautions to Minimize Fireworks Risks

July 27, 2020

Hackensack Meridian JFK Medical Center Encourages Communities to Celebrate Safely

Hackensack Meridian JFK Medical Center, serving residents of central New Jersey for more than 50 years, is reminding the public to take precautions to avoid fireworks accidents that can be life-altering.

“The National Safety Council advises that everyone enjoy fireworks at public displays conducted by professionals, and not use fireworks at home,” said Frank Cunningham, MD, director, Pediatric Emergency Department at JFK Medical Center in Edison, NJ. “Most common, injuries from fireworks affect the hands, face, and eyes. Injuries are more frequent and more severe among persons who are active participants than among bystanders. Even sparklers can burn at about 2000 degrees Fahrenheit and cause severe burns.”

Dr. Cunningham advises that if you are considering using fireworks, some practical tips can help reduce the risk of injuries:

  • Never allow children to ignite, play with or use fireworks in any way
  • Don’t buy fireworks packaged in brown paper, which often means they were manufactured for professionals. They could be dangerous for consumers to use
  • Make sure you, your children and others watch fireworks from a safe distance
  • Never use fireworks while impaired by drugs or alcohol
  • Anyone using fireworks or standing nearby should wear protective eyewear
  • Never hold lighted fireworks in your hands
  • Never light them indoors
  • Only use them away from people, houses and flammable material
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person
  • Only light one device at a time and maintain a safe distance after lighting
  • Never ignite devices in a container
  • Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks
  • Soak both spent and unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don’t go off or in case of fire
  • Never use illegal fireworks
  • Should an injury from fireworks occur, call 911 immediately

In Edison, NJ, the Emergency Department at JFK Medical Center is equipped to provide expert treatment for any fireworks related injury.

The Dangers of Using Fireworks at Home

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that 8,500 people in the United States are treated in emergency departments each year for fireworks-related injuries. Of all fireworks-related injuries, 70% to 75% occur during the 30-day period from June 23 to July 23. Seven of every 100 persons injured by fireworks are hospitalized, approximately 40% of those injured are children 14 years of age or younger, and males are injured three times more often than females. The injury rate is highest among boys aged 10 to 14 years. The estimated annual cost of fireworks-related injuries is $100 million. In 2017, eight people died and over 12,000 were injured badly enough to require medical treatment after fireworks-related incidents. Of these, 50% of the injuries were to children and young adults under age 20. Over two-thirds (67%) of injuries took place from June 16 to July 16. And while the majority of these incidents were due to nonprofessionals attempting to use professional-grade, homemade or other illegal fireworks or explosives, an estimated 1,200 injuries were from less powerful devices like small firecrackers and sparklers. Additional information about fireworks safety is available from CDC on the World-Wide Web, http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc, or CPSC, http://www.cpsc.gov.

Potential Danger of Sparklers

Every year, young children use sparklers at parades and parties, but sparklers are a lot more dangerous than most people think. Sparklers burn at about 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt some metals. Sparklers can quickly ignite clothing, and children have received severe burns from dropping sparklers on their feet. According to the National Fire Protection Association, sparklers alone account for more than 25% of emergency room visits for fireworks injuries. For children under 5 years of age, sparklers accounted for nearly half of the total estimated injuries. Consider using safer alternatives, such as glow sticks, confetti poppers or colored streamers.