Thousands of Americans, many of them children, are injured each year in firework accidents. Most of these injuries occur during the Fourth of July holiday and include serious burns, loss of fingers, and blindness.
Though the most disabling injuries occur with illegal firecrackers, such as M-80s, most injuries are caused by bottle rockets, sparklers, and Roman candles.
Viewing public displays handled by professionals is the safest way to enjoy fireworks on the Fourth of July or any other day. Even then, keep a safe distance away.
If you plan to celebrate the holiday with your own fireworks, these precautions can help prevent injuries:
Don't let children play with the fireworks.
Never place any part of your body over a firework device.
Make sure anyone who handles fireworks wears safety goggles to protect the eyes from flying sparks or debris.
Don't use bottle rockets. Their flight paths are often erratic, and rocket launchers sometimes explode, sending pieces of glass or metal flying.
Don't drink alcohol when using fireworks.
Read the safety labels.
Don't try to relight fireworks that have not worked correctly.
Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of malfunction or fire.
Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.
Follow label directions.
Light fireworks outdoors.
Light only one at a time.
Buy from reliable firework sellers.
Never give fireworks to small children.
Never carry fireworks in your pocket.
If an accident injures someone's eyes, these actions can help protect the victim's sight:
Don't delay medical attention, even if the injury seems minor.
Don't try to rinse out the eye. This can be very damaging.
Don't put pressure on the eye. Don't touch the injury.
Don't give the victim aspirin or ibuprofen to try reducing the pain. These thin the blood and might increase bleeding.
Don't apply ointment or any medicine. It's probably not sterile.