Fireworks safety encouraged by health care, fire officials

With the Fourth of July holiday comes the primary weekend for fireworks sales and activity of the year, and officials and physicians are warning to keep safety at the forefront of that and all other holiday plans.

“The July 4 season every year we see a number of fireworks-related injuries or other injuries related to heat and just being outside, so we just want to make sure that everyone has a an enjoyable holiday that is safe and injury free,” said physician Amber Laney, co-director of the Emergency Department and chief physician executive at Prisma Health Laurens County Hospital. 

Aa a physician, Laney said her preference would be to leave fireworks to the professionals, but she knows in a state where fireworks are legal, many will buy their own.

“One of the biggest rules to go by, not just the fireworks but for any outdoor summer activity, is to never use them in combination with alcohol, “ she said. “They’re not for the use of children so they should always be used by a supervising adult. “

In 10 years as an emergency medicine physician, fireworks injuries often have similar causes and results, Laney said.

“Just follow general basic lighting guidelines, making sure you keep a safe distance,” Laney said. “Then not re-lighting them or investigating a firework that didn’t go off, holding them in your hand, leaning over them, or pointing them at others. Over my 10 years in emergency medicine I’ve seen injuries related to all of those things and usually those injuries involve the hands or fingers or eyes which are all devastating injuries.”

And while misused fireworks can be detrimental to individuals, they can also lead to fires, and State Fire Marshall Jonathan Jones also urges safety when purchasing and using fireworks, sending the reminder that South Carolina law prohibits fireworks from being sold to anyone younger than 16 years old.

For those choosing to use consumer fireworks, the State Fire Marshal suggests these safety tips: 

  • Observe local laws. If unsure whether it is legal to use fireworks, check with local officials. 
  • Observe local weather conditions. Dry weather can make it easier for fireworks to start a fire.
  • Buy from permitted fireworks retailers. 
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place. 
  • Always have an adult present when shooting fireworks. 
  • Use common sense. Always read and follow the directions on each firework. 
  • Only use fireworks outdoors away from homes, dry grass, and trees. 
  • Ensure people and pets are out of range before lighting fireworks. 
  • Light one firework at a time and keep a safe distance.
  • Put used fireworks in a bucket of water; keep a garden hose on hand.

Never:

  • Point or throw fireworks at another person. 
  • Re-ignite malfunctioning fireworks. 
  • Experiment or attempt to make your own fireworks. 
  • Give fireworks to small children. 
  • Carry fireworks in your pocket.
  • Shoot fireworks from metal or glass containers.
  • Place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks. 

“Across the state, there are also permitted professional fireworks displays available to South Carolinians to enjoy the Fourth of July holiday,” Jones said. “Residents can consult their local fire officials for firework displays in their area.”  

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