Disclosure: As a young child, I once grabbed the lit end of a sparkler. Don't do this. It hurts.
But there are many more caveats when handling fireworks, lest you want to spend hours soaking your burned hand in icewater or worse, wind up in the emergency room.
According to Bridgeport Hospital spokesman John Cappiello, "Bridgeport Hospital Chairman of Emergency Medicine Dr. Michael Werdmann estimates that we treat 'no more than a dozen' fireworks-related injuries each year during the Fourth of July period. He says most of the injuries are minor — generally burns to the fingers and hands and an occasional eye injury from sparks and debris."
Even one accident is too many, here are some ways to avoid injury, courtesy of Bridgeport Hospital:
- Don't let children play with the fireworks (case in point).
- Never place any part of your body over a fireworks device.
- Make sure anyone who handles fireworks wears safety goggles to protect the eyes from flying sparks or debris.
- Don't use bottle rockets. Their flight paths are often erratic, and rocket launchers sometimes explode, sending pieces of glass or metal flying.
- Don't consume alcohol when using fireworks.
- Read the cautionary labels.
- Don't try to re-light fireworks that have not worked properly.
- Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of malfunction or fire.
- Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.
- Follow label directions.
- Ignite fireworks outdoors.
- Light only one at a time.
- Buy from reliable fireworks sellers.
- Never give fireworks to small children.
- Never carry fireworks in your pocket.
In case of eye injury
- Don't delay medical attention, even if the injury seems minor.
- Don't attempt to rinse out the eye. This can be very damaging.
- Shield the eye from pressure. Tape or secure the bottom of a foam cup, milk carton or similar shield against the bones surrounding the eye — the brow, cheek and bridge of the nose.
- Don't give the victim aspirin or ibuprofen to try reducing the pain. These thin the blood and might increase bleeding.
- Don't apply ointment or any medication. It's probably not sterile.
Stay safe and have a happy 4th of July!