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Red, White & Burns: A Guide to Staying Safe with Fireworks



The Fourth of July is a time for day-off gatherings and hours in the sun – to some, it may even mark their favorite occasion of the year. This Independence Day celebration usually lends hand to the ever-famous fireworks show in the evening, too. And while we’d like to remind you that fireworks are illegal in New York State and sparklers in certain counties like Onondaga, if you are celebrating out-of-state, Dr. LouAnne Giangreco has some advice on how to put your safety first on the fourth of the month.

Consider a sparkler alternative.

Sparklers are fun, easy to hold and an integral part of the Fourth of July memories. Though all of this may be true, they should still be treated as a serious health risk to adults and children. An average sparkler can heat up to about 1200° Fahrenheit – that is no small index for your skin to feel. Consider swapping out your sparklers for other bright alternatives, like glow sticks. This way you and your kids can enjoy the whimsical activity of lighting up the dark sky in a safe, enjoyable manner.

Do not relight a firework. 

If a firework remains unlit, do not stand over it or try to relight it. It is recommended that you wait at least 20 minutes before taking the firework and either hosing it off or putting it in a bucket of water. If at first you don’t succeed in lighting your firework, do not follow old adages – it’s time to wait and dispose of this explosive, not try again.

When operating fireworks, have a charged hose or bucket of water available.

If you do decide to operate fireworks on your own, always make sure you have a good supply of water readily available, like a charged hose and bucket of water. Fireworks are beautiful and festive, but they are still explosives and should be treated as such with proper precautions. You should also always make sure that you are wearing eye protection as you operate fireworks, as well as having a phone available to call 911 – preparing for an emergency is truly the best way to avoid one altogether.

Do not use ice on a burn-affected area.

If you do sustain a small burn as a result of lighting fireworks, do not rush to put ice on the area – ice is too cold and can inflict further tissue damage. Instead, cool down minor burns with room-temperature or cool tap water for about 5 minutes, or cover the injury with wet towels or gauze for 30 minutes. This cooling effect can help prevent the tissue damage from going deeper.

When do you need medical attention?

If you find yourself in any of these situations involving an injury, it is time to seek medical attention:

  • The burn is greater than 3 inches
  • It involves your face, hands, feet or genitals
  • It involves a joint
  • It wraps around a body part

These types of injuries are serious and can have lasting effects, so it’s important that you seek medical attention immediately.

If you do require medical attention this holiday weekend or have any questions on firework safety, contact or visit a Five Star Urgent Care near you.


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