New Year’s fireworks provide thrills but can be dangerous

If you’re planning on ringing in the new year with fireworks or bonfires, a few extra moments of preparation can help prevent life-threatening injuries during celebrations.


“Safety starts before the fire is lit,” said Dr. Robert Mullins, medical director of the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital .

The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that 11,100 fireworks-related injuries were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments in 2016, although most of the injuries occurred from June 18 to July 18. Of those injuries, 900 were associated with sparklers and 400 with bottle rockets. Young adults ages 20 to 24 had the highest estimated rate of emergency department-treated, fireworks-related injuries and 61 percent of all fireworks injuries were to males.

“The injuries from fireworks can cover a wide range,” Mullins said. “Each year we see burns that are very minor, as well as patients who have both deep burns and traumatic injuries from the explosion of a large firework.”

Fireworks are not the only holiday-related burn injury often seen at the burn center. Mullins said campfires can also be dangerous, particularly when adding accelerants to them .

“When you are ready to light the fire, use precaution and never, ever use gasoline to help fuel the fire,” Mullins said. “That’s a recipe for an explosion. I have seen many very severe burns from fires that exploded after people added gasoline.”

Fireworks Safety Tips

  • Create a “blast zone” that is away from structures, people, dry grass and other flammable items
  • Designate someone as the safety person, someone else as the shooter and someone else as the cleanup crew
  • Ensure a fire extinguisher, hose or bucket or water is nearby
  • Make sure the “shooter” is not wearing loose clothing that could ignite, and follows all directions on the fireworks label
  • If the device does not have a warning and/or instructions label, do not fire it
  • Never use fireworks of any kind indoors
  • Light fireworks one at a time
  • Never throw fireworks. A malfunctioning fuse could cause the item to go off in your hand.
  • Never light fireworks held in someone’s hand.
  • Never stand over an item that does not fire
  • Remember that fireworks, especially sparklers and smaller items that stay on the ground, are still very hot, and therefore dangerous, after they have been used.


Fire Safety Tips

• Use utensils with long handles to stay clear of the fire.

• Utility lighters are not safe for children. Do not leave lighters outdoors where the elements may weaken or damage the plastic.

• Always follow manufacturers’ instructions when operating a fire pit.

• Make sure to extinguish a fire before you leave.

• Have a fire extinguisher nearby.

SOURCE: Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital