Everyone loves home fireworks. They are sold everywhere, so they must be safe, right? Not so fast. This Fourth of July, hospitals can expect about 6,000* Emergency Room visits due to serious injuries from home fireworks — most will be burns and many will be really serious.
About a quarter will be eye injuries, everything from scratches to burns to what we call “enucleation,” or the loss of an eye, most often from bottle rockets. Even the seemingly innocent sparkler burns at 1,000 degrees, and can cause devastating injuries. Sounds scary, doesn’t it.
So how can you protect yourself and your family? It’s simple: Don’t use home fireworks. Your safest bet is to view your local public fireworks display, where there are trained professionals who live to delight and awe the crowds!
If you do choose to buy home fireworks, please keep children far away and NEVER let them light things. Be sure to use fireworks in a safe location with access to water should a fire break out. For additional firework safety information, download this free tip sheet in both English and Spanish.
I love seeing my patients, but I hate seeing them for injuries that were completely preventable. Keep safe, have fun and protect yourself and your kids this Independence Day!
Ben Hoffman, M.D.
Medical Director, Doernbecher Tom Sargent Children’s Safety Center
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* Number updated on July 3 per 2011 Fire Works Annual Report.