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Healthcare 101: Tips for a Safe Independence Day

There are many ways to celebrate the Fourth of July – including great food and company with family and friends, and perhaps a city fireworks display at a beautiful park, lake, or ocean. You might also be invited to a small gathering in which someone plans to create their own dazzling display. If you want to enjoy fireworks, we encourage you to stick to those organized by professionals — there are many accidents and trips to emergency rooms and urgent care centers related to fireworks (both those watching them and igniting them). However, if you decide to attend a smaller display organized by friends or family, it’s important for everyone to keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Never give fireworks to children, or leave children (or teens) unattended during a fireworks display. This also goes for sparklers, which may seem harmless, but burn at extremely high temperatures. Sparklers account for a high percentage of fireworks-related injuries in children.
  • Keep a bucket of water and a working water hose handy.
  • Do not attempt to re-ignite “duds.” Wait a 15-20 minutes, then soak them with the hose (or in a bucket of water). To dispose of used fireworks, hose them down after they’ve cooled (15 minutes or so), and throw them away in an outdoor trashcan (preferably metal).
  • Always read all instructions, warning labels and performance descriptions on fireworks. When purchasing them, try to avoid buying display models (which may have had the packaging removed). Do not buy from any vendor selling unlabeled fireworks. M-80s, M-100s, quarter sticks and the like are federally banned explosives, not fun fireworks.
  • Know local laws and neighborhood ordinances about fireworks. It’s no fun to get slapped with a hefty holiday fine.
  • Never light more than one firework at a time, and be sure to wear safety glasses (looking unfashionable is much preferable to a lifetime of blindness).
  • Fireworks should only be shot from a smooth, flat surface – and always aimed away from any people, buildings or wooded areas.
  • Spectators should always keep a healthy distance. The larger the show and power of fireworks, the further back they should be. Large public displays should leave a significant “safety zone” between the fireworks’ launch point and the spectators.

For more information, please consult the National Council on Fireworks Safety