To your health: Some safety tips for handling fireworks, even sparklers

By Alfred Casale - To Your Health | July 4th, 2017 6:00 am

Happy Fourth of July!

I get it. There will be fireworks despite how firmly I encourage you to avoid non-professional displays. Fireworks and sparklers are iconic when it comes to celebrating summer nights and the Fourth of July. As beautiful and fun as they may be, the reality is that they can be quite dangerous. Especially sparklers.

Oftentimes, parents don’t think twice about handing their child a lit sparkler. When weighing fireworks dangers, people rarely think of sparklers as a major hazard.

However, sparklers are the most dangerous fireworks in terms of accident statistics. In a recent year, 31 percent of fireworks injuries were caused by sparklers.

Every year, people underestimate the dangers of sparklers. But, the tip of a sparkler burns at 2,000 degrees — that’s hot enough to melt some metals and as hot as a blow torch.

These injuries stem from children often holding sparklers too close to themselves or others. Because sparklers have such a hot flame, they can easily set clothing on fire … they’ll go up in flames quickly, causing devastating burns.

In order to prevent these injuries, you should first and foremost never let any child under the age of 5 handle sparklers. And, when it comes to kids older than 5 years old, if you let them hold a sparkler, keep your eyes on them and never leave them on their own.

Kids really don’t understand how hot sparklers can get, which is why it’s so important to supervise them.

When celebrating with sparklers, only light them one at a time. Lighting multiple sparklers together creates the risk of a flare up — a bundle of lit sparklers can burn your arms or face.

When a sparkler goes out, the heat risk isn’t over.

Sparklers stay very hot after you’re done with them, which is why you should dispose of them into a bucket of water or sand.

If there are other fireworks present at your celebration, make sure you keep your sparklers away from them. Stray sparks from sparklers and spent sparklers can ignite fireworks.

And never use sparklers inside. They can fill a house with smoke and set fire to furniture.

In addition to sparklers, if you plan on including fireworks in your Fourth of July celebration, follow these safety tips for a fun party free of injuries.

• Don’t let children play with or ignite fireworks.

• Avoid buying fireworks in brown paper packaging — this is often a sign that they were made for professional displays.

• Never position any part of your body over fireworks when lighting the fuse.

• After lighting the fuse, back up immediately to a safe distance

• Don’t try to re-light or pick up a firework that didn’t fully ignite.

• Keep a bucket of water or a hose nearby in case of an emergency.

• Only light one firework at a time.

• After fireworks finish burning, hose it down or douse it with plenty of water before throwing it out to prevent a trash fire.

• Make sure fireworks are legal before you buy or use them.

Celebrate, have fun but remember sparklers and other fireworks are dangerous. Treat them with great respect.

Alfred Casale To Your Health Casale To Your Health
Safety must come first when setting off your Fourth of July fireworks display. must come first when setting off your Fourth of July fireworks display. Times Leader file photo

By Alfred Casale

To Your Health

Dr. Alfred Casale, a cardiothoracic surgeon, is Associate Chief Medical Officer for Geisinger Health and Chair of the Geisinger Cardiac Institute. Readers may write to him via [email protected]