Fireworks: Don’t Shoot Your Eye Out on July 4
More than 9,000 fireworks injuries were treated in U.S. emergency rooms just last year.
An estimated 5,600 of those injuries occurred in the month surrounding Independence Day.
New Jersey legalized the least extreme fireworks — novelty and non-aerial items — in 2017. While plenty of the big guns will make their way into the Garden State and get ignited by a bunch of amateurs around the July 4 holiday, even less threatening items like sparklers can do some physical damage.
"Just because something's available doesn't mean it's safe," said Dr. Michael Marano, medical director of the Burn Center at Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston.
The center sees fireworks-related injuries every year, Marano said. Young males are the most common victims, and the overwhelming majority of cases are minor.
"Most of the injuries tend to be hands, eyes and arms," he said. "If clothing catches fire, the burns can be much more extensive."
According to Marano, a common mistake made by consumers is holding a firework when lighting it, instead of having it rest on a stable surface. Marano advises individuals to avoid attempting to create their own spark source — using lighter fluid, for example — if a firework doesn't light on the first few tries.
Children younger than 15 years old accounted for 36% of the approximately 9,100 fireworks-related injuries treated in emergency rooms nationwide last year, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Marano said many children don't understand how hot sparklers can get when lit.
Medical experts advise individuals to wear protective eyewear when using or standing near fireworks. The shock of a blow could cause a "ruptured globe" in one's eye. Short of that, there are chemical and thermal injuries.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology offers perhaps the smartest tip to avoid injury this holiday — attend a professional fireworks display, instead of making one yourself.
Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.