Tips to enjoy fireworks safely this Fourth of July

Children are the most common victims of firework accidents, with those 15 years old or younger accounting for half of all fireworks eye injuries in the United States. Credit: Getty
Children are the most common victims of firework accidents, with those 15 or younger accounting for half of all fireworks eye injuries in the United States. Credit: Getty

Every July, fireworks crackle and sizzle in celebration of Independence Day. While most spinners and firecrackers successfully illuminate the night sky, thousands of misfires cause significant harm to revelers with little experience in pyrotechnics.

“Too many Fourth of July celebrations are ruined because a child has to be rushed to the emergency room after a fireworks accident,” said Dr. Kenneth Cheng, a pediatric ophthalmologist at the Pennsylvania Academy of Ophthalmology.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, of the more than 9,000 fireworks-related injuries each year, 30 percent of injuries involve the eyes and one-fourth of fireworks eye injuries result in partial loss of vision or blindness. In the lead-up to the Fourth of July, the academy is urging people to let professionals handle the fireworks shows. With children by far the most common victims of firework accidents, the best ways to minimize potential injuries include establishing safety barriers, keeping a safe distance away from a lit firework and staying away from unexploded fireworks.

Each year, the $900 million fireworks industry sees approximately three and half injuries per 100 pounds of fireworks used. The device that causes the most injuries is also the loudest, with 32 percent of all fireworks injuries stemming from firecrackers. Though maybe the least exciting fireworks, hand-held sparklers are the most dangerous to young children, as they blaze at a temperature scalding enough to cause a third-degree burn.

“The best way to reduce injuries is to designate a shooter and use the fireworks as they are intended,” said Ralph Apel, spokesman for the National Council on Fireworks Safety.

“If consumers know their fireworks and use them responsibly, we should see a decrease in injuries.”

The Pennsylvania Academy of Ophthalmology’s safety tips:

  • Never let children play with fireworks of any type.
  • View fireworks from a safe distance: at least 500 feet away, or up to a quarter of a mile for best viewing.
  • Respect safety barriers set up to allow pyrotechnicians to do their jobs safely.
  • Leave the lighting of fireworks to trained professionals.
  • Follow directions given by event ushers or public safety personnel.
  • If you get an eye injury from fireworks, seek medical help immediately.
  • Sparklers can burn at nearly 2,000F, hot enough to cause a third-degree burn. They account for one-third of all fireworks injuries.


Woman dies when run over by bus at…

A woman at the Burning Man arts and culture festival in the Nevada desert died on Thursday when she was run over by a bus carrying participants.


Texas parents sue day care center for duct…

By Marice RichterDALLAS (Reuters) - A Texas couple has filed a lawsuit against the owners of a Fort Worth-area day care center seeking $1 million…


Santa Fe city council votes to decriminalize marijuana

By Joseph KolbALBUQUERQUE N.M. (Reuters) - Santa Fe on Wednesday became the latest U.S. city to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana, with lawmakers in the…


Egypt queries Mursi over documents "leaked" to Al…

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt is investigating jailed ex-president Mohamed Mursi in connection with documents that judicial investigators say were leaked to the Qatar-based Al Jazeera…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…


Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.


Criterion's new Jacques Demy box mixes the light…

Jacques Demy, the most effervescent of French New Wave filmmakers, gets a Criterion box all to himself, with classics like "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg."


Comedian Joan Rivers, 81, rushed to New York…

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Acerbic comedian and fashion critic Joan Rivers was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York on Thursday after she reportedly…


3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.


NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.


Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.


Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.


Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…


4 healthy ingredient swaps to make your meals…

When it comes to eating well, everyone knows they could be doing better. But cooking in an apartment on a busy schedule is a recipe…


Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…