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Best practices when it comes to fireworks safety

Written By: Simone Sonnier, UT Physicians | Updated: July 2, 2019

Barbecues, parades, and fireworks, these things all come to mind when you think of the 4th of July. Unfortunately, thousands of people in the U.S. also head to the emergency room each year due to fireworks-related injuries. Consider these tips when it comes to your Independence Day celebration.

Fireworks shows are the best option

One alternative to popping your own fireworks is to attend a professional fireworks show. The official recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is to skip at-home fireworks for families with children. Enjoying a fireworks show conducted by professionals is a great way to enjoy the Fourth of July, without the risk that can come from at-home use.

“As a pediatrician, I have witnessed devastating injuries resulting from fireworks. I would recommend that parents take their children to local fireworks shows,” said Kenya Parks, MD, pediatrician at UT Physicians Multispecialty – The Heights.

Kenya M. Parks, MD
Kenya M. Parks, MD

“The shows are conducted by trained professionals and regulated by high safety standards with trained support responders onsite. Additionally, the shows are spectacular and typically free,” she adds.

Consumer fireworks are not legal in the City of Houston

The use of consumer fireworks are considered illegal in the City of Houston. Please check the law as it pertains to the surrounding areas.

Be aware of children and bystanders

Supriya Ramanathan, MD
Supriya Ramanathan, MD

Fireworks, even ones that seem harmless, are dangerous if not used properly. “Children and bystanders around them are particularly vulnerable to burns from fireworks. The excitement and distraction of fireworks can expose children to risks that can have deadly consequences. Even with adult supervision, children can be unpredictable and not follow safety precautions. Families with children are encouraged to enjoy fireworks displays in the community that are organized by professionals,” Supriya Ramanathan, MD, pediatrician at the UT Physicians Pediatric Primary Care – Texas Medical Center clinic.

Sparklers are not “kid-friendly” fireworks

Sparklers, a generally considered safe firework, are a common cause of fireworks-related injuries. With temperatures upwards of 2,000 degrees, burns to the face and hands are frequent among children.

Have supplies ready in case of an emergency

Having an accessible water source (or a bucket of water) nearby can come in handy in case of a fire. All detonated fireworks should be doused in water before disposing of them. Keep a first-aid kit in the immediate area in the event of a minor injury. For serious injuries, call 911 immediately and seek medical attention.

Be aware of your surroundings 

Be sure to check the label on your fireworks before detonation. The label can contain important information such as minimum safe distances for spectators. It is also important to ensure there are no combustible materials nearby, such as dried leaves, gas, or even other fireworks.

As the clinical practice of McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston, UT Physicians has locations across the Greater Houston area to serve the community. To schedule an appointment, call 888-4UT-DOCS.