Stay safe during fireworks fun

By UF&Shands Communications • Published: July 4th, 2012
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

With the Fourth of July just around the corner, it’s time to plan your Independence Day celebration with plenty of burger-grilling, parade-watching, flag-waving and of course, firework-watching. Whether you’ll watch bombs bursting in air from a safe distance and let the pros handle the heavy work, or put on a show of your own, following a few tips can ensure you enjoy a happy, healthy holiday.

First and foremost, keep those peepers protected. According to Prevent Blindness America, eyes are the second-most injured body part around the Fourth of July. Children under 14 are especially susceptible, with firecrackers causing the greatest number of injuries, followed by sparklers and roman candles.

Putting on your own show? The National Council on Fireworks Safety offers a few more tips for making sure no one loses an eye, or worse. Don’t try to alter, combine or make your own fireworks. Never relight a “dud” firework; wait twenty minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water. Use a hard, flat surface as a launching pad and keep the area clear of obstructions and dry grass.

Keep a hose or bucket of water handy and light fireworks outdoors only. Remember that alcohol and fireworks don’t mix… have a “designated shooter.”

Not surprisingly, smoke from fireworks can be harmful, too, especially for those who suffer from asthma or cardiovascular problems. Overexposure to miniscule metallic particles, small enough for firework-watchers to inhale deeply into lungs, could cause problems later in life, according to one study. Some smoke even contains lethal lead. Researchers compare exposure to firework smoke to that of tobacco; the less, the better. Stake out a seat upwind of the display, if possible.

And of course, use common sense. A trip to the emergency room, while certainly memorable, is a sure way to ruin an otherwise fun-filled holiday.