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Fireworks Safety

Fireworks-related injuries are most common on and around holidays associated with fireworks celebrations, especially July 4th and New Year’s Eve. Nationally, thousands of people were treated in emergency departments in 2010 for injuries sustained from fireworks.

In 2010, fireworks-related injuries in South Carolina included:

  • 182 non-fatal injuries, including serious burns, contusions, and other trauma;
  • 177 people were treated in emergency departments, and 5 were admitted into the hospitals;
  • 83 percent of those injured were males;
  • 23 percent were under 18;
  • 39 percent were between 18 and34;
  • 34 percent were between 35 and64;
  • 4 percent were 65 or older; and
  • 51 percent of the injuries occurred in the summer, 20 percent in winter, 16 percent in fall, and 13 percent in spring.

The best way to prevent fireworks injuries is to leave fireworks displays to trained professionals. However, if you still want to light up fireworks at home, keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Obey local laws. If fireworks are not legal where you live, do not use them!
  • Use fireworks outdoors only and always have water handy (a hose or buckets of water).
  • Only use fireworks as intended. Don’t try to alter them or combine them.
  • Use common sense when using fireworks. Spectators should keep a safe distance from the person lighting the fireworks, and the person lighting should wear safety glasses.
  • Don’t hold fireworks in your hand or have any part of your body over them while lighting. Avoid carrying fireworks in your pocket—the friction could set them off.
  • Point fireworks away from homes, and keep away from brush, leaves and other flammable substances.
  • Light one firework at a time. Never re-light a “dud” firework (wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water).
  • Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Have a “designated” person who is not drinking light the fireworks.
  • Only people over age 12 should be allowed to handle sparklers of any type.
  • Do not ever use homemade fireworks or illegal explosives—they can kill you! Report illegal explosives to the fire or police department in your community.
  • Soak all fireworks in a bucket of water before throwing them in the trash can because they may still be ignited.

Remember fireworks can cause serious injuries including burns and contusions. If you are injured by fireworks, seek immediate medical attention.

Enjoy your holidays with your family and take precautions when lighting fireworks at home! Please watch this Safety Video at www.fireworksafety.com/safety_video.html

Source: The National Council on Fireworks Safety and US Consumer Product Safety Commission

For information, contact us at (803) 545-4349 or poorek@dhec.sc.gov. See a brief description of the work performed by DHEC's Division of Injury and Violence Prevention.