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5 Tips for Firework Safety

When it comes to fireworks, here’s advice that could spare you, or a loved one, a devastating injury: Leave the shows to the pros.

Every year in the U.S., fireworks cause thousands of injuries, including severe burns and eye injuries. Many of these injuries are serious enough to require treatment in hospital emergency departments. Some are deadly. And those hurt or killed are often children or bystanders.

“Every year we see fireworks-related injuries in the ER around the July Fourth holiday,” says emergency medicine physician Marni Teramana, DO, who practices at Kettering and Sycamore medical centers. “We especially see first- and second-degree burns and blast injuries to fingers and eyes.”

Even sparklers are dangerous. They burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees — hot enough to burn some metals. And they account for 25 percent of fireworks injuries treated at emergency departments.

That’s why the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) cautions that backyard fireworks simply aren’t safe. If you want to “ooh” and “aah” at fireworks this summer, the NFPA advises that you take in a public display put on by experts.

That said, if you light fireworks yourself, be sure to take these precautions:

• Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.

• Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities.

• Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse.

• Never try to relight or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.

• Keep a bucket of water or garden hose handy in case of a fire or other mishap.

If you are spending the day outdoors before watching the fireworks, Dr. Teramana offers a few tips for staying healthy and avoiding heat-related illnesses:

Dress for the heat. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect away some of the sun’s energy. It is also a good idea to wear hats or to use an umbrella.

Drink water. Carry water or juice with you and drink continuously even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which dehydrate the body. Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.

Wear sunscreen. Protect your skin with sunscreen with at least a 30 SPF and reapply often.

Eat small meals and eat more often. Avoid high-protein foods, which increase metabolic heat.

Heat-related illnesses can cause serious injury and even death if unattended. Signs of heat-related illnesses include nausea, dizziness, flushed or pale skin, heavy sweating and headaches. Persons affected by heat-related illness should be moved to a cool place, given cool water to drink and ice packs or cool wet cloths should be applied to the skin. If a person refuses water, vomits or loses consciousness, call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number immediately.