When it comes to celebrating the Fourth of July, for many, fireworks are an annual tradition.
But, according to Tom Waters, M.D., an emergency department physician at Cleveland Clinic, doctors see a fair share of fireworks-related injuries this time of year.
Common firework-related injuries include injuries to the hands, eyes and face, and even the ear drum from loud explosions.
Dr. Waters said any time an injury occurs, it’s best to seek care right away.
“Generally with fireworks, if you do sustain an injury, there’s a good chance that the damage may be deeper than it appears,” he said. “The best thing is to get to the emergency department and let a health professional check you out right away.”
Dr. Waters said there are important things to keep in mind when shooting fireworks at home.
The first is avoiding drinking any alcohol while handling fireworks. Alcohol impairs judgment and can make people do things they wouldn’t normally do, which puts everyone present in position for trouble.
Also, stay far away from structures and loved ones when igniting any fireworks.
Dr. Waters said it’s also important to make sure that children cannot have access to any fireworks at any time – this includes where they are stored before use.
“It’s very important to keep all fireworks away from kids, because they do not understand the severity of what could happen to them should an accident occur,” he said. “If you are going to have fireworks around the house or around the holiday you absolutely have to keep them out of reach of all children.”
Dr. Waters stressed that backyard fireworks displays are risky, even for those who have been doing them for years, because accidents can happen to anyone at any time.
He urges those who are thinking about doing their own display to consider attending a public display instead.
“I can’t stress enough that the only real way to stay safe is to leave it to the pros and watch the display – don’t do it yourself,” said Dr. Waters.