Stay safe when using fireworks this Fourth of July

Families throughout California are preparing for this weekend’s Fourth of July holiday by cleaning off the grill and stocking up on fireworks. Unfortunately, along with the fun and excitement of fireworks comes a very real risk of serious injury.

About 240 people per day are treated in U.S. emergency rooms for fireworks injuries during the weeks surrounding Independence Day. Help keep yourself and your loved ones from being among them by keeping some safety tips in mind this weekend.

Children are among those most likely to be hurt by fireworks, and one of the best things you can do to prevent this from happening is simply to keep kids and fireworks separate. Even sparklers, which are commonly -- and mistakenly -- believed to be safe, can pose a risk of very serious injury to young children.

In fact, sparklers burn at a temperature of about 2,000 degrees. This is hot enough to melt certain metals, and is more than enough to cause scarring, disfigurement or even blindness in the event of an accident.

When setting off fireworks, be sure to avoid placing your hands, face or any other body part directly above the device when lighting the fuse. This will help minimize the risk of burns or other injuries if the firework should take off unexpectedly.  

As soon as you have lit the fuse, back away quickly. If the firework does not go off, do not try to pick it up or re-light it, since this may lead to it exploding unexpectedly in your hands.

It is also a good idea to keep a bucket of water, fire extinguisher or garden hose handy when handling fireworks. If something goes wrong, this can help keep a bad situation from turning much worse. You should also use water to make sure that the fireworks are completely extinguished once they have burned out.

Source: United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, "Fireworks Injuries" (viewed July 3, 2014)

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