Though countries around the world celebrate the new year with gatherings and public performances, if fire and pyrotechnics are not handled properly, a night of festivities can result in serious injuries. Beretta Craft-Coffman, PA-C, of Burn and Reconstructive Centers of America, believes using sound judgment and a pinch of precaution when around open flames or fireworks can help people stay safe while having fun.
“A little bit of precaution can go a long way when it comes to fireworks.”
“Educating yourself on the dos and don’ts can significantly reduce the chances of injury. We understand that accidents happen with or without precautions in place, but we want to help prevent as many of them as possible, so people aren’t spending a holiday in the burn center,” said Craft-Coffman.
Parties and gatherings can be chaotic, especially if children are present or alcohol is involved. It is always best for a sober adult who is seasoned in discharging fireworks to handle them and for children to be kept out of the launch area.
“While I encourage people to go out and view professional firework displays, I understand the excitement that comes with buying and firing them yourself,” she said. “Just be safe if you’re doing it yourself. An intoxicated adult can get injured and potentially injure others if allowed to handle the fireworks, and children can be too excited to sit still. Make sure they understand to stay out of the firing zone and watch from a safe distance.”
Craft-Coffman recommends the following tips when using any kind of pyrotechnics:
- Ensure a fire extinguisher, hose, or bucket of water is nearby.
- Make sure the “shooter” is not wearing loose clothing that could ignite and follows all directions on the fireworks label.
- If the device does not have a warning and/or instructions label, do not fire it.
- Light fireworks one at a time.
- Never throw fireworks. A malfunctioning fuse could cause the item to go off in your hand.
- Never light fireworks held in someone’s hand.
- Never stand over an item that does not fire. Do not try to relight it. Pour water on it.
- Never use fireworks of any kind indoors.
- Immediately call 911 to report any accidents.
Sparklers are a child’s staple when it comes to fireworks, yet some of them can burn at nearly 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, about the same temperature as lava.
“Sparklers are hot lava on a stick,” said Craft-Coffman. “I discourage parents from letting kids, especially young kids, play with them because they aren’t toys. They’re fireworks. Even after they’ve gone out the sticks remain a burn hazard.”
Be extra careful when handling sparklers and consider using the following tips to help steer clear of burns:
- Never light more than one at a time.
- Never light one in your child’s hand.
- Make sure children keep the sparklers away from others and flammable materials.
- Make sure the sparkler is kept a proper distance from their bodies to avoid burns or clothes catching on fire.
- When they are done, stick the used sparklers in a bucket of sand or water.
- Choose bamboo stick sparklers if you can.
- Remember that fireworks, especially sparklers and smaller items that stay on the ground, are still very hot, and therefore dangerous, after they have been used.