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The Do’s and Don’ts of Fireworks Safety

As the Fourth of July holiday approaches, many people are looking forward to the dazzling fireworks displays that celebrate our Independence each year. But, fireworks can be very dangerous. In 2011 more than 9,000 emergency department visits were due to fireworks-related injuries.

As an emergency physician with more than 15 years of experience and as a mother, I can assure you fireworks safety is extremely important. I recently shared some tips on KTXD-TV’s “D the Broadcast.” (Make sure to watch the Fourth of July special today from 9AM-11AM.)

I did a little research preparing for the show, and although I’ve had many first-hand experiences treating injuries caused by fireworks, I was very surprised when I read the statistics.

Check out the below infographic from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to see for yourself, or view another from the National Fire Protection Association.

fireworks-injuries-infographic

Although my best advice is to leave fireworks to the professionals, if you do decide to put on a show at your family’s independence day celebration please use caution. Here are some of the tips I think are most important:

DO these:

  • Read instructions and all cautionary labels
  • Buy fireworks from reliable and reputable sellers
  • Wear safety glasses to protect your eyes from flying sparks or debris
  • Keep a bucket of water or fire extinguisher on hand
  • Have a knowledgeable, sober adult in charge of handling all fireworks.
  • Dispose of all fireworks properly

DON’T DO these:

  • Give any fireworks, including sparklers, to children.
  • Lean over to light fireworks. Many people often do this to block the wind, but this is extremely dangerous.
  • Point or throw fireworks at someone, ever.
  • Light fireworks indoors or in cars. (This may seem common sense, but I have actually treated patients in the ED who have been injured because they ignited a bottle rocket while in a car.)
  • Light more than one, even if they are spaced apart on the ground.
  • Try to re-light any fireworks that did not fully ignite. (There’s a reason they didn’t go off the 1st time)
  • Carry fireworks in a pocket.
  • Wear loose clothing while using any fireworks
  • Set off fireworks in glass or metal containers — the fragments can cause severe injury.
  • Combine ingredients of different fireworks.

And remember to have an enjoyable and safe Fourth of July!

About the author

Dr. Elizabeth Fagan
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Dr. Fagan is the medical director of the emergency department at Baylor McKinney. When not with patients, she's spending time with her husband and teenage daughter, Bree. Some of her favorite hobbies include riding horses, gardening and watching NASCAR.

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The Do’s and Don’ts of Fireworks Safety