Bottle rockets, spinners, mortars, cakes, sparklers … it’s July Fourth, and nothing says Independence Day like the sizzle and boom of fireworks.
There’s a thrill to lighting that fuse, but there’s a danger, too … and the emergency experts in Spartanburg Medical Center’s Level I Trauma Center hope you’ll consider leaving the fireworks to the professionals this year.
“Fireworks are not toys,” T.J. Mack, BSN, RN-CEN, said. “They need to be handled appropriately to prevent unnecessary damage or bodily harm.”
Mack is the trauma injury prevention and outreach coordinator for Spartanburg Medical Center. He stresses that a July Fourth celebration that ends in the emergency center will be memorable for all the wrong reasons.
Obviously, the danger from fireworks comes from the intense heat they produce. While burns are the most common fireworks-related injury, many of these products are considered explosives.
“They have been known to remove fingers and toes, and can cause blindness due to eye trauma,” Mack said.
Penny Shaw, program coordinator for Safe Kids Spartanburg, encourages families to take their children to public fireworks displays instead of firing them off at home.
Even sparklers can be dangerous, Shaw said, even though many consider them harmless. Across the U.S., sparklers accounted for 28 percent of emergency room fireworks injuries during the July Fourth holiday in 2014, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
“Little arms are too short to hold sparklers, which can heat up to 3,000 degrees,” Shaw said.
Instead of sparklers, let your young children use glow sticks.
“They can be just as fun, but they don’t burn at a temperature hot enough to melt glass,” Shaw said.
There are other concerns about using fireworks at home – the explosions can cause serious distress for household pets, and they are a major cause of structure and vehicle fires.
Here are a few fireworks displays in the Upstate you can attend this year. Click the names to learn more. This is not an exhaustive list, so please keep an eye on your local newspapers and TV stations for more.
Fireworks safety tips
If you can’t bear the thought of a July Fourth without lighting your own fireworks, we recommend you follow these safety tips, provide by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:
- Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
- Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because 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.
- Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
- 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 or other mishap.
- Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
- Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
- After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
- Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.