July 4 fireworks can be fun and beautiful, but they are always dangerous. Fireworks are explosives, not toys. Fireworks send thousands of people to the hospital each year and cause millions of dollars in fire losses. Paramedics at American Medical Response urge caution with fireworks to prevent disfiguring burns, loss of eyes and fingers and to avoid property fires. The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a professionally-run show.
Penalties for Using Fireworks: Many Mississippi communities have restrictions and penalties on the sale and use of fireworks. The National Fireworks Safety Council warns that certain fireworks are illegal in all 50 states. Those include M-80’s, Silver Salutes and Cherry Bombs. Further, if your fireworks injure or kill someone or start a fire, you could be sued for hundreds of thousands (even millions) of dollars.
Injuries: The United States Fire Administration (USFA) says more than 11,000 people are injured from fireworks each year in the US. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says nearly half of those injured by fireworks are under the age of 15.
While fingers and hands are most often injured, the American Academy of Ophthalmology estimates fireworks annually cause nearly 2,000 eye injuries with permanent eye damage.
Bottle rockets are highly dangerous to the eyes, as they are essentially unguided missiles flying as fast as 200 miles per hour.
Fireworks can also cause permanent hearing loss, second and third degree burns and amputations. These injuries are extremely painful and can be emotionally and physically debilitating. For every serious injury from fireworks, there are hundreds if not thousands of lesser injuries. Even the lesser injuries hurt badly and are extremely frightening.
Fireworks Start Home and Business Fires: USFA reports, each year, bottle rockets and other aerial fireworks cause more than 6,000 fires.
Fireworks Safety Tips: If you take the risk of using fireworks yourself, AMR gives this advice:
- Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks. Even older children must have adult supervision.
- Remember: Fireworks entice children to use matches or lighters. Teach children that matches and lighters are dangerous tools, not toys.
- Follow the instructions on the fireworks packaging.
- Never shoot fireworks after drinking alcohol.
- Never set off fireworks in bottles, cans or other objects.
- Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
- Never shoot devices near buildings, over roofs or near power lines.
- Never try to re-light or fix fireworks that have not gone off. Wait 15 to 20 minutes before approaching a “dud” and then soak it with water.
- Always keep a safe distance from fireworks staging areas.
- Protect your eyes by wearing safety glasses or safety goggles. Prescription eyeglasses, sunglasses and contact lenses provide little or no protection from fireworks.
- Soak fireworks devices with water after they appear to have burned out.
- Never use homemade fireworks.
- Never extend any part of the body over fireworks devices while lighting them or after they have been lit.
- Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose and a first aid kit nearby.
- Always follow local fireworks ordinances and related directives from police and fire personnel.
- In case of eye injuries do not touch, rub or press the injured eye. Call 9-1-1 for paramedics who will treat the victim and safely transport him or her to a hospital.
- In case of burn injuries, cover the burns with a dry dressing and call 9-1-1 for paramedic care.
Tips Specific to Sparklers: Sparklers are among the most common fireworks at private celebrations. Adults often let small children hold sparklers because sparklers seem harmless. But sparklers are dangerous. Sparklers get as hot as 2,000 degrees – as hot as a blow torch. They can cause serious burns long after burning out. To avoid injuries from sparklers:
- The safe way to enjoy sparklers is to plant them in the ground away from dry grass and then have an adult light them.
- Do not hold more than one sparkler at a time. Always stand when playing with sparklers and do not run while holding them.
- If two or more people are holding sparklers, they should be at least six feet from each other when their arms are outstretched.
- Hold sparklers at arm’s length, away from the body. Do not hand a lit sparkler to anyone.
- Wear shoes with closed toes.
- Adults and older children should never carry a child who is holding a sparkler.
- Do not try to relight a burnt-out sparkler.
- Douse every burnt-out sparkler in a pail of water.
About American Medical Response (AMR):
Operating in 19 counties, AMR companies in Mississippi provide more patient transports than any other ambulance service. American Medical Response, Inc., America’s leading provider of medical transportation, provides services in 40 states and the District of Columbia. More than 28,000 AMR paramedics, EMTs, RNs and other professionals work together to transport more than 4.8 million patients nationwide each year in critical, emergency and non-emergency situations. AMR also provides fire services through Rural Metro Fire Department, www.ruralmetrofire.com. AMR is a subsidiary of Global Medical Response, www.GlobalMedicalResponse.com. For more information about AMR, visit www.amr.net and follow American Medical Response on Facebook @AMR_Social on Twitter and Instagram