Fireworks Safety: Protect Yourself and Your Kids


There is nothing much more traditional than fireworks on the Fourth of July. But this patriotic practice also fires up an unwelcome tradition: potentially dangerous injuries.

And this is especially true with so many young people handling devices that range from bottle rockets and roman candles to sparklers.

Teenagers and small children are especially susceptible to burns or injuries to the hands and face during the holiday, beginning as early as July 1 when revelers start buying up fireworks to test them out before the big night.

In fact, children under the age of 15 account for nearly 42 percent of the estimated 10,000-plus fireworks-related injuries that are treated in emergency rooms across the United States every year, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)

“We usually get a lot of burns to the hands and face,” said Fernando Mendoza, M.D., Medical Director, Children’s Emergency Center at Baptist Children’s Hospital, and Associate Medical Director of Emergency Services for West Kendall Baptist Hospital. “The most important thing with kids is that they don’t have the same sense of safety as adults. It’s the equivalent of having kids surrounded by water who don’t know how to swim.”

It’s not just those who are inexperienced at handling fireworks that trigger trips to emergency rooms and urgent care centers. It’s also the young men who like to show off.

“Frequently, it’s the daredevils you have to worry about,” said Joseph Scott, M.D., Medical Director, Department of Emergency Medicine, at West Kendall Baptist Hospital.

Fireworks devices that are illegal — such as self-propelled rockets — usually find their way into the hands of young people.

Nearly half of emergency room or urgent care visits around the Fourth of July involve injuries to the fingers or hands from holding on too long or improperly handling a fireworks device, Scott said.

However, up to 30 percent of the injuries involve potentially dangerous injuries to the eyes or face from burns or exploding parts, Scott said.

“The worse cases can involve loss of a finger or an eye injury that can cause blindness,” Scott said. “Keep in mind, even with sparklers, if you grab them at the wrong end, you’ll be touching something that’s burning at 2,000-degrees Fahrenheit.”

Minor cases of cuts, bruises or minor burns can be treated at urgent care centers. All others, including serious limb or facial injuries, require prompt attention at hospital ERs, Scott said.

Dr. Mendoza offers these  tips for parents:

  • Teenagers and children near or handling fireworks should be closely supervised by adults.
  • Wear eye protection when handling fireworks.
  • Do not look directly at or handle rockets, canisters or other devices that did not go off as intended.
  • Keep a running hose or  bucket full of water nearby at all times.
  • In the case of burns, run cool water over the area and cover carefully with gauze, but do not apply any creams or other “home remedy” such as butter.
  • Do not hesitate if you or your child are injured — seek medical attention at the nearest emergency department or urgent care center.

The NFPA recommends the following for enjoying fireworks safely:

  • The safest way to enjoy fireworks is at a public fireworks display that is put on by trained professionals.
  • Never use illegal fireworks. Anything that propels itself through the air, detonates or explodes, or contains more than 100 grams of the chemical compound that produces sparks, is illegal.  If you are unsure, just make sure you purchase your fireworks from a vendor that has an official permit to sell fireworks.
  • Read and follow all instructions on the label and keep all spectators a safe distance back from the ignition spot.
  • Use fireworks outdoors only, away from houses, vehicles, trees and other flammable objects. Choose a smooth, hard surface, clear of dry grass and brush to light all fireworks and sparklers.
  • Never attempt to re-ignite “duds” or fireworks that didn’t work the first time.







Baptist Health-Sponsored 4th of July Events

There is no Fourth of July event scheduled at a Baptist Health facility. However, the following events are sponsored by Baptist Health South Florida:

City of Weston, “We the People” Weston Hometown Parade, 9:30 a.m., Weston Town Center, 1744 Main Street, Weston.

Key Largo Chamber of Commerce, 4th of July Parade, 10 a.m., Anthony’s Clothing Store, 98200 Overseas Highway, Key Largo.

Town of Davie, 31st Annual  Independence Day Celebration and Fireworks Show, 1 p.m., Bamford Sports Complex, 3801 S. Pine Island Road, Davie.

City of West Miami, 4th of July Celebration, Guest of Honor, Board County Commissioner Chairwoman Rebeca Sosa, 4:30 p.m., West Miami Recreation Center/Rebeca Sosa Multi purpose Facility Building, 1700 SW 62 Avenue, West Miami.

City of Coral Gables, Fireworks Celebration, 5 p.m., Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Avenue, Coral Gables.

City of South Miami, July 4th Celebration, 5 p.m., Palmer Park, 6100 SW 67 Avenue, South Miami.

City of Homestead, Race to the 4th! Celebration of Independence, 6 p.m., Homestead-Miami Speedway, One Speedway Boulevard, Homestead.

City of Pembroke Pines, Independence Day Celebration, 7 p.m., City of Pembroke Pines Recreation Center, 7400 Pines Boulevard, Pembroke Pines.

BB&T Center, Sunrise,  Independence Day Celebration, with live musical performances, 5  p.m., BB&T Center Parking Lot, 2555 N.W. 136 Avenue, Sunrise


Healthcare that Cares

With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

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