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Keeping your Fourth safe and sane

June 28, 2016 | John Murray
Children watching fireworks

Ten Orange County cities now permit fireworks sales, and with Independence Day around the corner, experts are warning people to use caution.

“It’s important to understand that so-called 'safe and sane' fireworks are no guarantee that you or a child won’t be hurt by mishandling sparklers or firecrackers,” says Dr. Victor Joe, director of the UCI Health Regional Burn Center. “Always watch your kids around fireworks.”

Joe recently participated in a news conference at the Orange County Fire Authority headquarters in Irvine that featured tips for a safe July Fourth and a demonstration of the danger of even seemingly innocuous fireworks.

Hands, fingers, face at risk

“Most injuries we see in our trauma center and outpatient burn center around the Fourth of July holiday are to the hands, fingers and face,” Joe says. “Injuries can also happen to the eyes — always wear eye protection when handling fireworks.”

Fortunately, there are not many firework-related injuries in Orange County, he says, but injuries to kids are skyrocketing nationally, according to research recently presented to pediatric care specialists. And that is directly related to more communities permitting the sale of so-called 'safe and sane' fireworks.

What to do if you're injured

If you or a child are injured:

  • Immediately flush or submerge the burn with cool tap water for at least five minutes.
  • Do not put any cream, oil, butter, Vaseline or anything else on the wound.
  • Do not put ice on the wound — ice can damage the skin.
  • Seek medical assistance as necessary.

Firework safety tips 

Those who choose to buy fireworks should keep the following in mind:

  • Always use fireworks outside and keep a bucket of water and a hose nearby in case of accidents.
  • Kids should never play with fireworks.
  • Even sparklers can be dangerous. Sparklers can reach 1,800° Fahrenheit or 982° Celsius. Make sure to use them outside and away from the face, clothing and hair.
  • Don't hold fireworks in your hand or light them close to your body.
  • Light one firework at a time and never relight a dud.
  • Don't allow kids to pick up pieces of fireworks. Some may still be ignited and can explode at any time.
  • Soak all fireworks in a bucket of water before discarding them.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission:

  • On average, 230 people go to the emergency department every day with firework-related injuries around the Independence Day holiday.
  • Nearly 75 percent of injuries are to males.
  • 35 percent are to children under 14 years old.
  • 34 percent are to adults ages 25 to 44.
  • Firecrackers and sparklers each cause about 20 percent of the injuries attributed to fireworks.

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