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The Safest Way to Enjoy Fireworks? From a Distance

Fireworks can be beautiful, exciting-and dangerous. That is why safety experts and physicians recommend people enjoy them from a distance.

Hand, finger, and arm injuries account for more than 40 percent of all fireworks-related injuries. Such injuries can include burns, lacerations, fractures, and traumatic amputation. But even a minor injury or burn from an ordinary sparkler can cause pain and discomfort for weeks.

Most fireworks-related injuries to the fingers, hands and arms are caused by accidents involving firecrackers, bottle rockets, and sparklers. Injuries can easily occur when a person is playing with lit fireworks or igniting fireworks while holding the device. Believe it or not, sparklers can burn at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, as hot as a blowtorch.

Tim Harman, DO, a hand and upper extremity surgeon with The Hand Center says, "Typically, someone lights a firework, it doesn't go off, they pick it up to see why and then it goes off, causing severe injury that can result in the loss of digits." Harman says people underestimate how powerful fireworks are.

Fireworks

Some backyard fireworks are legal, but that doesn't mean they are safe. Most pre-school age victims are injured by fireworks that have been ignited by someone else, while older children who are injured usually lit the fireworks themselves. Even when people are being careful, they can be injured by devices that malfunction, do not work as expected, or tip over unexpectedly.

"The best way to enjoy fireworks is at a public display", Dr. Harman says. But even then, it is important to follow safety precautions:

  • Obey safety barriers and safety officials.
  • Stay back a minimum of 500 feet from the launching site.
  • Resist the temptation to pick up firework debris when the display is over. The debris may still be hot, or in some cases, might be "live" and could still explode.

USA.gov., U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, National Council on Fireworks Safety