(Good Things Utah) There is nothing more American than July 4th with its sweet rings of freedom and memories of the heroes that fought for our country. But as fireworks light up the night sky and the young wander around with a hand full of sparklers it’s important to remember that the tip of a sparkler burns at greater than 1200 degrees Fahrenheit — hotter than a blow torch. These temperatures are hot enough to sear through the skin and ignite clothing in an instant and are very common around the July holidays.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says there are about 200 fireworks injuries a day during the month surrounding July 4th.

According to Annette Newman, RN with the University of Utah Health: “I have worked at the burn center for greater than thirty-two years, and there is NOTHING that will tug at your heart more than the sobs of a loved one who has been burned. With firework injuries, the hands and face are the two most commonly injured body parts… These are both really important areas for function and identity. An injury in either of these areas can be life-changing.”

Annette Newman, MS, RN, CCRN

Firework Safety Tips

Tip #1

Fireworks should be handled by adults, not children including sparklers. There are some pretty fun alternatives such as glow sticks, pinwheels, and bubbles. According to the National Fire Protection Association, “sparklers alone account for more than 25% of emergency room visits for fireworks injuries, and children under 5 years of age, sparklers accounted for nearly half of the total injuries.”

Tip #2

Be sure spectators are out of range before lighting fireworks and never throw or point fireworks toward people, pets, buildings, or vehicles.

Tip #3

With the really dry conditions this year it is especially important to light fireworks away from houses, dry leaves, and flammable materials so that we can all avoid wildland fires

Burn Prevention

The majority of burn injuries are preventable, increased awareness can prevent life-changing injuries.

  • First understanding that even a small burn can cause life-changing injury is really important. Firework accidents usually affect the young and recovery can be long and painful
  • Second – Educate friends and family so that they understand the risks and consequences and know what to do if an injury occurs. This is a great time to re-visit stop drop and roll and practice it so that muscle memory can develop. Have crucial conversations with your loved ones, especially teens reminding them to only use fireworks under adult supervision and to never try to re-ignite fireworks that have malfunctioned (soak in a bucket) or use illegal fireworks
  • Third – Be prepared – keep a bucket of water, a garden hose or fire extinguisher nearby when using fireworks can make a huge difference.

University of Utah Health’s team of burn specialists is always there to help, taking calls from the community all the time. If you or a loved one have sustained a burn injury you can call (801) 581-2700 and a provider will assist you.

For more helpful information, go online to UofUHealth.org/Fireworks.

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