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Firework Fun: Leave it to the Professionals

An IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital Release

— Fourth of July celebrations typically include fiery displays of patriotic pride. But too often, something goes wrong. A mortar prematurely fires. A firework fountain tips over and shoots the wrong direction. A sparkler burns too rapidly. A spark catches clothes on fire. Each accident can bring injury and even death. That’s why Indiana University Health Ball Memorial Hospital is urging caution with firework fun this season.

“Every year we see a host of injuries as a result of fireworks,” said Annie Sharp, MD, Emergency Department, IU Health Ball Memorial. “All fireworks are dangerous and should be left to the professionals. We can’t stress enough the need for adult supervision if children are present when fireworks are being used.”

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) 2010 Fireworks Annual Report, about 8,600 consumers ended up in hospital emergency rooms nationwide last year due to firework injuries and approximately 40 percent of those occurred in children younger than age 15. Additionally, three fatalities were reported due to fireworks.

“While sparklers and other small firecrackers may seem safe because of their size, they actually cause the most serious injuries,” Sharp said. “Burns to the hands or fingers are common because of exploding fireworks being held and eye injuries are also prevalent due to a lack of eye protection.”

This season, IU Health Ball Memorial and the CPSC recommend the following for a safe and fun holiday celebration:

  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.
  • Avoid buying fireworks that come in brown paper packaging as they could be intended for professional displays and pose a danger to consumers.
  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
  • Adults should always supervise fireworks activities.
  • Take care with sparklers–they burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees and injure many children.
  • Light one item at a time then move back to a safe distance immediately.
  • Never have any portion of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse.
  • Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not fully burned.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
  • After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding to prevent a trash fire.

Go to IU Health Ball Memorial Newsroom