How to safely light fireworks


How to safely light fireworks

This is the time of year when the night sky lights up with bursting fireworks and the glow of sparklers.
It’s also a time when holiday fun can send people to the emergency room with burns, hearing damage and potentially much worse, says Wendi Kobylarz, Tidelands Health emergency department director.
“Throughout most of the summer someone is out there letting off fireworks somewhere,” Kobylarz says, “though things certainly pick up around the Fourth of July.”

Injury risk

Whether people are setting off bottle rockets, Roman candles or other types of pyrotechnics, those who aren’t paying close attention and following safety guidelines can easily send themselves or someone else to the ER.

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In 2021, there were approximately 11,500 emergency room-treated injuries involving fireworks, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, including 1,500 injuries associated with firecrackers and another 1,100 injuries involving sparklers.
Most of those injuries happen in the weeks leading up to and after the Fourth of July. Hands and fingers were the body parts most often injured by fireworks, followed by the head, face and ears.
Young adults ages 20 to 24 were the most likely to be injured by fireworks.
Those stats are reflected in the patients who present at Tidelands Health emergency departments, Kobylarz says.
“In recent years, we’ve had some hand burns and some people who have complained of ringing ears from being too close to fireworks,“ Kobylarz says, “but we haven’t seen any serious limb injuries or anything life-threatening, fortunately.”


Sparklers, which are often given to children, are a common cause of burns, Kobylarz says. That’s because the popular hand-held display burns at about 2,000 degrees.

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“If children have sparklers, watch them – it’s still flame, it’s still hot,” Kobylarz says. “They can still get burned.”
The risk doesn’t end when the sparkler burns itself out, Kobylarz says. That’s because the sparkler stick can remain extremely hot. It’s best to douse the sparkler in water at the end to avoid potentially injuring yourself or someone else.
To stay safe around fireworks this year, follow these recommendations from the Consumer Product Safety Commission:

  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks, including sparklers.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move quickly away from the firework.
  • Never try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them with water and throw them away.
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a firework when lighting the fuse. Once lit, move to a safe distance.
  • Never point or throw fireworks (including sparklers) at anyone.
  • To prevent a trash fire, douse spent fireworks with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding the device.
  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area, and only purchase and set off fireworks that are labeled for consumer (not professional) use.
  • Never use fireworks while impaired by alcohol or drugs. Alcohol impairs judgment.
  • Follow manufacturer safety and use instructions.
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