Lighting up July 4th with safety reminders

Firework and sparkler safety

Firework and sparkler safety

For many people July Fourth weekend means fireworks but it’s also bringing in a boom of injury-related hospital visits. 

Dr. Alex Lacey of the Regions Hospital Burn Center says she typically sees the number of patients go up around this time of the year, and it’s all partly because of fireworks.

“We know that they are explosives that we set off in a beautiful array, but when they’re mishandled, they can be incredibly dangerous,” said Lacey. 

She said the most common fireworks-related injuries occur on the hands and face in part because people often hold onto them. Lacey advises to always place them on the ground, keep your distance and make sure guests are protected.

“And also make sure that everyone who’s watching is at least 20 feet away from the firework and ideally behind some sort of a protective barrier,” she said. 

More than 30 percent of fireworks injuries are from sparklers, according to the State’s Fire Marshal Division. Lacey warns sparklers get up to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. 

“Obviously, that can burn people. It can melt glass; it can do all sorts of other things at that temperature,” said Lacey.

Accidents can be very serious. The Fire Marshal Divison reports that last year one teen died and eleven people were treated for fireworks-related injuries. 

However, the damage isn’t limited to people’s health, there were 96 fireworks-related incidents last year causing more than $760,000 in property damages, in part because fireworks weren’t cooled completely. 

“So if you really want to be safe over this Fourth of July weekend, go see a professional show,” Lacey advised. 

Lacey noted that bonfires are also major burn risks around this time of the year. She suggests avoiding accelerants like gasoline and lighter fluid. She also said embers stay hot for up to two days after the bonfire is put out, so make sure everyone stays away from the pit even after it’s been extinguished.