For many, seeing bursts of red, white and blue lighting up the sky is a must for the Fourth of July. But along with all of the fireworks festivities are also plenty of visits to emergency rooms. Here are some tips to help keep your fireworks experience fun and safe:
If you go to a show
The National Safety Council advises everyone to only enjoy fireworks at a public display conducted by professionals. Check for local regulated fireworks shows in your community and maintain these safety practices when attending:
- Talk with young children or those who haven’t experienced watching fireworks to try to prepare them for loud noises often associated with fireworks displays.
- Stay within the designated spectator areas. Don’t try to get closer to the action.
- Quick getaways aren’t always possible at crowded fireworks shows. Bring along a cell phone or a tablet with kid-friendly apps and kid-safe headphones to distract youngsters if they are scared.
If you opt for at-home fireworks
Check with your local police or fire department to see what types of products are legal in your area, then follow this advice to prevent injuries:
- Don’t purchase professional-grade products to use at home. Consumer fireworks have colorful packaging and safety labels. Professional-grade products often look generic and may be packaged in a brown paper bag.
- Do not allow young children to touch or light fireworks. Create a designated safety zone for kids that is a good distance from the firing area.
- Older children should be permitted to use fireworks only under close supervision by a sober, responsible adult.
- Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby for emergencies and for pouring on fireworks that fail to ignite or explode.
- Sparklers are not “safe” fireworks. Sparklers can burn as hot as 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, similar to a blowtorch. Sparklers can quickly ignite clothing, and many young children have received severe burns from dropping sparklers on their feet.
- Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
- Keep unused fireworks away from firing areas.
If you have furry family members
If you don’t want to spend the day after Independence Day trying to soothe a stressed-out kitty or searching for a spooked pooch, here’s some advice:
- Bring an outside pet inside for the entire holiday or perhaps even a few days before if you know people in your neighborhood often celebrate with fireworks early.
- Be sure your pet is wearing a well-fitting collar with an up-to-date ID tag.
- Tire your dog out by taking him or her for a long walk before the festivities. They may sleep right through the show.
- Surround your pet with comforting things like a white noise machine to muffle noises, a favorite toy or a yummy treat.
If you have an emergency – seek care right away. Call 911 or visit your closest emergency department. Care options, depending on the severity of your condition, include urgent care.