CLEVELAND – There’s no better time than the Fourth of July to enjoy a good fireworks display.
Experts agree that the safest way to do so is to leave it to the professionals and attend a public display.
However, if plans include a few backyard firecrackers, Cleveland Clinic’s Baruch Fertel, M.D., said first and foremost, people need to remember that alcohol and fireworks don’t mix.
“Fireworks can get very hot, they’re fire, and they can be dangerous,” he said. “People can get severe burns, they can lose limbs, they can have eye injuries – and it’s really important for people to be in full control of their faculties when they’re shooting off these fireworks to make sure they don’t do anything that would be unsafe or cloud their judgment.”
It’s also important to take necessary steps to keep onlookers safe.
Dr. Fertel recommends performing a sweep of the surroundings before lighting any fireworks.
Make sure fireworks are handled in an open area, and not near anything that could possibly ignite, such as a gas line or dry brush – and also be sure that the fireworks are not pointing directly at anyone.
Always have a bucket of water and a fire extinguisher nearby in case of an emergency.
Dr. Fertel reminds people to never pick up a firework that didn’t go off, as it could explode in the hands or face and cause devastating injury.
He also said fireworks should never be handled by children – only adults.
Smaller novelty items, such as sparklers, can be very dangerous to young children too.
“Even a sparkler can get to well over a thousand degrees, so, saying something is ‘just a sparkler’, you need to know that it could still cause harm, and it’s important for us to maintain safety and vigilance,” said Dr. Fertel.
Dr. Fertel reminds people to only buy fireworks from a retailer that is licensed to sell them, and which have been approved by the federal government. And, of course, always first make sure it is legal to shoot them off in your state.