10 tips for safely using fireworks

By: The University of Tennessee Medical Center News Service

Whatever the time of year, fireworks turn the evening sky into a canvas painted with colorful light and patterns.

Along with beauty, however, fireworks can also bring harm by causing serious burns and eye injuries. The body parts most frequently injured are hands and fingers (36%); heads, faces, and ears (22%); and eyes (16%). Burns account for 62% of injuries.

According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (USPSC), approximately 240 people go to hospital emergency departments every day with fireworks-related injuries during the month of July and especially around the Fourth of July holiday.

When using fireworks, Dr. Jennifer Piel, a primary care physician with University Medical Group at The University of Tennessee Medical Center (UTMC), offers the following 10 safety tips:

  • “Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.”
  • “Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.”
  • “Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper. This is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.”
  • “Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Even sparklers can cause injuries as they burn at temperatures hot enough to melt some metals. Sparklers are the number one cause of fireworks-related injuries.”
  • “Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Light fireworks one at a time and then back up to a safe distance away from them.”
  • “Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.”
  • “Never point or throw fireworks at another person.”
  • “Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire.”
  • “Never carry fireworks in your pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.”
  • “After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent devices with plenty of water before discarding them.”

What should you do when accidents occur?

“It depends on the severity of the injury,” said Piel. “If it is an emergency, call 911 immediately. For urgent medical service, go to the nearest hospital’s emergency department or after-hours clinic.”

According to Piel, The Emergency and Trauma Center at UTMC is the only Level I Trauma Center in the East Tennessee area for adults and children. In addition, UTMC’s After-hours Clinics provide services to both established and new patients over the age of two.

Additionally, for reliable information on taking care of your health or a loved one’s health, contact UTMC’s Health Information Center at 865.305.9525 or online at www.utmedicalcenter.org/hic. Staffed by medical librarians and certified health information specialists, the Health Information Center offers an extensive health library, digital and printed resources, walk-in assistance, and help with the research on specific health conditions – all free of charge and available to the public.

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