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Ask the Expert | What are some tips for staying safe around fireworks?

What are some tips for staying safe around fireworks?

As we get ready to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday, my No. 1 recommendation would be to not attempt to light any fireworks yourself. The best thing to do is grab a blanket, find a local fireworks show and leave it to the professionals.

About 10,000 injuries a year in the United States — which frequently include injuries to the eyes and hands, as well as burns — are caused by fireworks, with 73% of those injuries occurring around July 4. Children are the victims in about 30% of those fireworks-related injuries.

But if you do decide to light fireworks yourself, here are some steps you can take to reduce your risk:

 Never allow young children to handle fireworks.

 Wear protective eyewear when lighting fireworks.

 Light fireworks away from people, houses and any flammable material.

 Never point or throw fireworks at another person.

 Only light one device at a time and maintain a safe distance after lighting.

 Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don’t go off or in case a fire breaks out.

 Never use illegal fireworks.

 Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks.

While sparklers are often considered a “safe” alternative to other types of fireworks, they are also quite dangerous, accounting for about 25% of emergency department visits for fireworks-related injuries. Sparklers burn at around 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which can quickly ignite clothing. Children have received severe burns from dropping sparklers on their feet. For children younger than 5, sparklers accounted for nearly half of the total estimated injuries caused each year by fireworks.

Instead of sparklers, consider using safer alternatives, such as glow sticks, confetti poppers or colored streamers. On behalf of everyone at UVa Health’s Trauma Program, we wish you a happy — and safe — Fourth of July.

For more information about the program and UVa Health’s Level I trauma center, visit


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