Tips for celebrating July 4th safely

Safety should be top of mind when using fireworks to celebrate the July 4th holiday. While fireworks are beautiful to watch, they are dangerous to play with. If not handled properly, fireworks can cause severe injuries to eyes and skin. Even sparklers and firecrackers send thousands to the emergency room each year.

Here are 12 fireworks safety tips to help prevent injuries:

  1. Use fireworks outdoors only.
  2. Obey local laws. If fireworks are not legal where you live, don’t use them.
  3. Only adults should be allowed to light fireworks of any type. Never allow young children to play with fireworks, and supervise older children with sparklers closely. Sparklers burn at about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to melt some metals.
  4. Always keep water (a hose or bucket) close by. Douse used fireworks with plenty of water before discarding.
  5. Only use fireworks as intended. Don’t try to alter them or combine them.
  6. Never re-light a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
  7. Use common sense. Spectators should keep a safe distance from the shooter, and the shooter should wear safety glasses. Light fireworks one at a time, and then step back.
  8. Don’t ever place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device.
  9. Don’t point or throw fireworks at another person – no horsing around.
  10. Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Select a “designated shooter” who is knowledgeable and will remain sober.
  11. Do not ever use homemade fireworks or illegal explosives, which can kill you! Report illegal explosives to the fire or police department in your community.
  12. Don’t buy fireworks packaged in brown paper because this could be a sign that the fireworks are for professional displays and could be dangerous for consumers.

Dr. David Taylor, chief medical officer and emergency medicine physician at Riverwood, advises, “The best way to prevent injuries from fireworks is to leave the show to the experts. On behalf of our Riverwood emergency team, we urge you to celebrate the July 4th holiday safely while having fun with family and friends. If you’re going to use fireworks, follow the safety tips.”

The numbers tell the story when it comes to the importance of fireworks safety. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission 2023 report on fireworks injuries:

  • 9,700 people in the U.S. were treated in ERs for fireworks injuries, including eight deaths.
  • 42 percent of injuries from fireworks were burns.
  • Of all the injuries reported, 800 were from firecrackers and 700 from sparklers.