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Fireworks Safety – Know Before You Light

  • Category: News
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Michael Jimenez, MD, Trauma Medical Director
Fireworks Safety – Know Before You Light

The Fourth of July often evokes memories of sunny days at the beach, neighborhood block parties, the mouthwatering smell of hot dogs and burgers on the grill and bright-eyed children waving their shining sparklers.

As you look forward to your upcoming Independence Day celebrations, it’s important to remember that fireworks are a type of explosive that can be dangerous if not handled properly. Even sparklers, seemingly harmless, can burn at temperatures up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and cause serious bodily damage.

According to a 2020 United States Consumer Product Safety Commission report, fireworks were a cause of more than 15,600 injuries treated in emergency rooms across the U.S., with 66% occurring during the month surrounding the 4th of July holiday. Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center’s Trauma Center received eight patients with firework discharge injuries during this same month in 2021 alone.

Firecrackers, sparklers and other firework devices can cause of wide number of injuries, including minor to severe burns and lacerations to the face, eyes, hands or fingers, and loss of fingers, sight or hearing. If you choose to use legal fireworks in your 4th of July celebrations, we urge you to heed the following safety tips:

  • Purchase your fireworks from a vendor that displays a “State of California, State Fire Marshall Registered Fireworks” seal to ensure they are safe and legal to use
  • Keep a bucket of water or hose nearby in case of an accident – and always soak used devices before discarding
  • Never handle fireworks while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Do not allow young children to handle fireworks
  • Light all fireworks outdoors and away from flammable materials, such as clothing, chemicals and dry brush areas at high risk for a fire
  • Never hold fireworks in your hands or point them at others
  • Keep fireworks away from your eyes – wear protective eyewear if possible

A firework accident can happen in a matter of seconds but an estimated 80 percent of burn injuries are preventable. When properly and quickly treated, the outlook for first- and second-degree burns is good. These burns rarely scar but can result in a change in pigment of the skin that was burned. The key is to minimize further damage and infection. Extensive damage from severe second-degree and third-degree burns can lead to problems in deep skin tissues, bones, and organs.

Here’s how to identify the three primary types of burns:

  • First-degree burns: red, non-blistered skin – can be treated at home
  • Second-degree burns: blisters and some thickening of the skin – may require immediate medical attention
  • Third-degree burns: widespread thickness with a white, leathery appearance- requires immediate medical attention.

When in doubt about the severity of your burn, seek immediate medical attention – especially if you experience a firework-related injury to the eye, a burn to the eyes, nose, ears, toes or fingers, or a burn or wound larger than the size of your palm.

Learn more about the Trauma Center at PVHMC here.