Surviving The 4th – With Fingers and Toes Intact

The 4th of July is a time for food, family — and of course fireworks. However, before you light up that sparkler this holiday week, make sure to consider the hazards of fireworks and how to keep yourself and your children safe.

Are fireworks safe for my family to use?

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 280 people a day visited emergency rooms across the country with fireworks- related injuries in the month around the July 4th holiday last year.

Here in San Antonio, University Hospital saw a number of injuries with our level I pediatric trauma center and burn program treating 19 children ages 17 and younger with burn and blast injuries related to fireworks. This number increased from the previous year.

Children can be especially vulnerable to fireworks-related injuries since most parents do not consider the safety risks associated with seemingly harmless fireworks, like sparklers.

“Sparklers, which are often considered safe for small children, can burn up to temperatures of 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit, the same heat as from a blow torch,” said Dr. Lilian Liao, pediatric trauma and burn director at University Hospital.  “They can not only cause serious injuries to kids, but can also be a fire hazard. “

So while it may seem like a good idea to set off your own fireworks, Dr. Liao stresses that it’s usually better to let the professionals handle them instead.

“Fireworks are best done by professionals. However if you choose to light your own, do not try to relight ones that do not go off or look directly into any firework.” Dr. Liao said.

What can I do to protect myself and my family when setting off fireworks?

If you choose to light up this week here are some important safety tips to remember:

  • A responsible adult should supervise children at all times
  • Never mix alcohol and fireworks. Save that drink for later.
  • Never relight a firework that doesn’t go off
  • Always have a bucket of water and water hose nearby
  • Use fireworks in an outdoor area away from buildings

And remember— if someone does suffer a fireworks-related injury or burn it’s important to seek medical attention as quickly as possible.