Americans love fireworks, especially on the Fourth of July, but experts warn they can be dangerous if not used safely.
About 10,500 fireworks-related injuries were treated in U.S. hospitals in 2014, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. And nearly 400 people lose sight in one or both eyes every year due to fireworks injuries.
It isn't just the people setting off the fireworks that need to be careful – it's everyone. Each year children and innocent bystanders suffer injuries from fireworks, sometimes resulting in permanent loss of vision.
Experts suggest the safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a professional display. If you do use fireworks at home, remember these safety tips:
- Always have adult supervision and never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks.
- Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before using them. Read and follow all manufacturers' warnings and instructions. Shoot fireworks on a clean, flat surface away from the house or flammable materials.
- Keep a source of water close by in case of fire or another mishap. Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly. Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
- Never use bottle rockets and never throw fireworks at another person.
- Dispose of fireworks by soaking them in water. After, put them in a fireproof container that has a cover.
If a fireworks-related eye injury occurs: seek medical attention immediately; do not rub or rinse your eyes, and do not apply pressure; do not remove any objects that are stuck in the eye; do not apply ointments or take any blood-thinning pain medications, such as aspirin or ibuprofen. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has more on fireworks.
Learn more about pediatric health and safety.