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Fireworks Safety decreases risks of serious injury

Enjoy Fourth of July Festivities from Safe Distances

Nashville, TN — For many adults and children, fireworks are a tradition of summer activities. However, fireworks cause thousands of injuries and emergency room visits each year, and more of these injuries occur during Fourth of July festivities than any other holiday. As this year’s Independence Day approaches, the Tennessee Department of Health urges residents to practice safe and responsible use of fireworks to avoid related injuries.

“Although fireworks can be exciting, festive and fun, it is important to remember that improperly handled fireworks can turn a celebration into tragedy,” said Commissioner Susan R. Cooper, MSN, RN. “We remind all Tennesseans to use common sense and act responsibly to prevent serious injuries this Fourth of July.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 10,000 people are treated in hospital emergency rooms every year for fireworks-related injuries, and most of these incidents involve children. Burns are the leading cause of injury from fireworks, followed by lacerations and contusions, all primarily involving the fingers, hands, eyes and facial area. In Tennessee in 2008, the most recent year for which data are available, there were 221 emergency room visits and 240 people discharged from the hospital due to fireworks related injuries. While 19 of those hospital discharges required short term hospital stays, fireworks can cause long term effects such as blindness, hearing loss and permanent scarring if used incorrectly.

To help you celebrate safely this Fourth of July, the Tennessee Department of Health offers the following safety tips for those who choose to deal with fireworks at home:

  • Always read and follow all warnings and label instructions.
  • Never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks or watch a display without adult supervision.
  • Wear eye protection and never have any part of the body over the firework.
  • Use fireworks only outdoors and in a safe area.
  • Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.
  • Always have water handy–a garden hose, wet towels and a bucket.
  • Never throw or point fireworks at other people or animals. 
  • Never re-light a “dud” firework. Wait 15 to 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
  • Never experiment or attempt to make your own fireworks. 
  • Dispose of fireworks properly by soaking them in water and then placing them in your trashcan.

In addition to being prepared to avoid firework mishaps, residents should also be prepared to handle any accidents that may occur. Materials such as gauze, hydrogen peroxide and other first aid supplies should be readily available. In the event of serious injury, seek immediate medical attention from a doctor or at the hospital. Quick response to injuries may prevent further and more permanent damage.

“We want all Tennesseans and visitors to remain safe this holiday and enjoy their holiday outside of emergency departments,” encourages Cooper. “The best way to prevent fireworks-related injuries is to leave fireworks displays to trained professionals.”

For more information about fireworks safety, visit the CDC Fireworks Injuries website at www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Fireworks/.

Additional Information can also be found on the National Council on Fireworks Safety website at www.fireworkssafety.org/.

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