Holidays like the Fourth of July often include food, fun and fireworks. Fireworks can be a great way to gather family and friends to celebrate, but it’s important to keep safety in mind when kids, teens and even adults are participating.

Here, CHOC experts offer tips for handling fireworks safely.

The dangers of fireworks

If not handled properly, fireworks can cause burns and eye injuries in kids and adults. The best way to protect your family is not to use any fireworks at home — period. Attend public fireworks displays, and leave the lighting to the professionals.

Lighting fireworks at home isn’t even legal in many areas, so if you still want to use them, be sure to check with your local police department first.

Home fireworks safety tips

It you decide to light fireworks at home and they are legal where you live, keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Kids should never play with fireworks. Things like firecrackers, rockets and sparklers are just too dangerous. If you give kids sparklers, make sure they keep them outside and away from the face, clothing and hair. Sparklers can reach 1,800°F (982°C) — which is hot enough to melt gold. A safer alternative is to provide glow sticks or confetti poppers to children. 
  • Buy only legal fireworks (legal fireworks have a label with the manufacturer’s name and directions; illegal ones are unlabeled), and store them in a cool, dry place. Illegal fireworks usually go by the names M-80 Cherry Bombs, M-1000, blockbuster and quarterpounder. These explosives were banned in1966 but still account for many fireworks injuries.
  • Never try to make your own fireworks.
  • Always use fireworks outside and have a bucket of water and a hose nearby in case of accidents.
  • Steer clear of others setting off fireworks. They can backfire or shoot off in the wrong direction.
  • Never throw or point fireworks at someone, even as a joke.

Get more summer safety tips from a CHOC pediatrician.

  • Don’t hold fireworks in your hand or have any part of your body over them while lighting. Wear eye protection, and don’t carry fireworks in your pocket — the friction could set them off.
  • Point fireworks away from homes, and keep away from brush and leaves and flammable substances. The National Fire Protection Association estimates that local fire departments respond to more than 50,000 fires caused by fireworks each year.
  • Light one firework at a time (not in glass or metal containers), and never relight a dud.
  • Don’t allow kids to pick up pieces of fireworks after an event. Some may still be ignited and can explode at any time.
  • Soak all fireworks in a bucket of water before throwing them in the trash can.
  • Think about your pet. Animals have sensitive ears and can be very frightened or stressed by the Fourth of July and other big celebrations. Keep pets indoors to reduce the risk that they’ll run loose or get injured.

How to help your child with an injury caused by fireworks

If a child is injured by fireworks, immediately go to a doctor or hospital.

If an eye injury happens:

  • Don’t let your child touch or rub it, as this may cause even more damage.
  • Don’t flush the eye out with water or try to put any ointment on it.
  • Cut out the bottom of a paper cup, place it around the eye, and get medical care right away — your child’s eyesight may depend on it.

If your child is burned:

  • Remove clothing from the burned area.
  • Call your doctor immediately.

Fireworks are meant to be enjoyed, but you’ll enjoy them much more knowing your family is safe.

For more safety tips from CHOC experts

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