Fireworks are synonymous with the Fourth of July holiday.  That’s why state health officials are urging Hoosiers to observe some important safety tips, as they gather with family and friends to display their patriotism.  In 2007, 82 percent of all reported fireworks-related injuries occurred between June 30 and July 7.

“Fireworks are fun and festive, but a celebration can quickly turn tragic if a child is injured,” says Joan Duwve, M.D., M.P.H., medical director of Public Health and Preparedness at the Indiana State Department of Health.

“Sadly, 48 percent of all fireworks-related injuries in 2007 involved children and adolescents,” said Joan Duwve, M.D., medical director for Injury Prevention at the Indiana State Department of Health.  “Parents should know one of the most frequent injuries is burns to the hands, which are often caused by sparklers.”

In 2007, there were 156 cases of fireworks injuries reported to the State Department of Health, down from 251 in 2006.  Sparklers, aerial devices, and rockets accounted for 54 percent of injuries.  Sixty-nine percent of the total injuries were burns, with four individuals suffering from third degree burns.  Ninety-two percent of people with eye injuries were not using any method of eye protection.  Fireworks used on private property accounted for 83 percent of reported injuries.

“Fireworks injuries can be severe, resulting in blindness or loss of a finger or even a hand,” said Dr. Duwve.  “The good news is most of these injuries can be prevented.  The best way is to attend public fireworks displays, rather than buying fireworks for personal use.”

Dr. Duwve says if people insist on using fireworks at home, they should follow these safety tips:

  • Don’t allow young children to play with fireworks, including sparklers;
  • Closely supervise older children who are permitted to use fireworks;
  • Don’t allow any boisterous play while fireworks are being used;
  • Always wear eye protection when lighting or using any fireworks;
  • Before using any fireworks, read and follow all warning instructions;
  • Light fireworks outdoors in a clear area, away from houses and flammable materials;
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby for emergencies and dousing fireworks that don’t go off;
  • Don’t try to relight or handle a “dud.”  Instead, soak them with water and throw away;
  • Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks;
  • Never ignite fireworks in a container, especially one made of glass or metal;
  • Always purchase your fireworks from reliable, licensed fireworks dealer;
  • Do not alter any fireworks device or attempt to make your own fireworks;
  • Never smoke or drink alcoholic beverages while handling fireworks;
  • Store fireworks in a dry, cool place, according to the instructions.

For more information about staying safe this summer, visit www.in.gov/dhs/getprepared.