Fireworks Safety Tips From An ExpressCare Nurse

For most of us, the Fourth of July holiday isn’t complete without cookouts, parades and fireworks.

There’s no denying that fireworks are alluring and fun, but it’s best to leave that part of our patriotic celebration to the professionals.

About 8,600 people were treated in hospital emergency departments last year for fireworks injuries, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. More than half of the injuries were burns, and most involved the head (face, eyes, ears), hands, fingers and legs.

More than half the injuries were children and young adults under the age of 20.

What to do when there’s a fireworks injury 

If a child is injured by fireworks, go immediately to a doctor or hospital, says Peggy Knowski, a registered nurse with Memorial’s ExpressCare.

For burns, remove burned clothing from the burned area. Run cool, not cold, water over the burn. Do not use ice.

For eye injuries, don’t allow your child to touch or rub the injury; this can cause even more damage. Don’t flush out the eye with water or put any ointment on it.

Instead, cut out the bottom portion of a paper cup, place it around the eye and immediately seek medical attention. Your child’s eyesight may depend on it.

How to safely celebrate with fireworks

If you are celebrating with fireworks, please keep these additional safety tips from Peggy in mind:

  • Kids should never play with fireworks. Often regarded as safe, sparklers burn at 2,000 degrees F. That means your child is holding something that’s hot enough to melt gold.
  • Always use fireworks outside. Have a bucket of water and hose nearby in case of accidents.
  • Steer clear of others. Fireworks can backfire or shoot off in the wrong direction. Never throw or point fireworks at someone – even in jest.
  • Never hold fireworks in your hand or have any part of your body over them while they’re being lit.
  • Wear some sort of eye protection.
  • Never carry fireworks in your pocket. Friction could set them off.
  • Point fireworks away from homes. Keep them away from brush, leaves and other flammable substances.
  • Light one firework at a time. Never light them in glass or metal containers. Never relight a dud.
  • Never let kids pick up pieces of fireworks after an event. Some could still ignite and explode at any time.
  • Soak all fireworks in a bucket of water before throwing them in the trash.
  • Keep pets indoors so they don’t run loose or get injured. They have sensitive hearing and can be easily frightened.
  • What experiences have you had handling fireworks?

We hope you have a safe holiday weekend. If you do need non-emergency healthcare on Independence Day, our South Sixth ExpressCare, 2950 S. Sixth St., will be open from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. Lab and medical imaging services will also be available during those hours.

All three of Memorial’s ExpressCares, which include our locations off North Dirksen and in the Koke Mill Medical Center, will be open during their regular hours on Saturday and Sunday. All three ExpressCares will be open for their regular hours on Tuesday, July 5.