Safety tips for the 4th of July

July 2, 2014 Jayne Blackburn, MSN, RN, CCRN

How often do we hear it on the news, local billboards, or social media to “have a safe 4th of July”? Indeed, July 4th can be one of great celebration for our nation’s independence. But do you want to spend the evening in your local Emergency Department or Urgent Care with your child instead of enjoying it with family and friends?

Fireworks are a big cause of injuries, not only to children, but to adults alike. We collectively spend thousands of dollars on things that make the loudest “BOOM”, the brightest lights in the sky, or provide the longest show. We don’t anticipate spending additional money, hundreds to thousands of dollars, on emergency care that comes from the accidents caused by fireworks.

Here are some tips to help you have a safe 4th of July celebration:

  • Obey local laws - make sure that it is legal to shoot off fireworks. Better yet, enjoy public displays and leave the lighting of fireworks to the professionals.
  • Parents/caretakers should always closely supervise teens if they are using fireworks.
  • Do not allow young children to handle or use fireworks. (Did you know that even just a “sparkler” can heat up to 1200 degrees Fahrenheit? A great option is to use a glow stick instead.)
  • Fireworks should only be used outdoors and in open areas. Never shoot fireworks off indoors or near/on dry grass. Point fireworks away from homes, trees, etc.
  • Always have a bucket of water, or fire extinguisher ready.
  • Know your fireworks. Read the caution label before igniting.
  • Do not mix alcohol and fireworks.
  • Wear safety glasses whenever using fireworks. Don’t wear loose clothing when igniting fireworks.
  • Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
  • Soak spent fireworks with water before placing them in an outdoor garbage can.
  • Avoid using homemade fireworks or illegal explosives: They can kill you!
  • Report illegal explosives, like M-80s and quarter sticks, to the fire or police department. 
If an injury does occur, go immediately to your local emergency department. If you or your child suffers an eye injury due to fireworks, do not rub the eye as this can cause further damage.

Taking a few precautions can help you and your family to have a safe and happy 4th of July!

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