News Search


Spend Fourth of July weekend firework injury-free

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kenna Jackson
  • Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs
It's a week before July 4, a holiday that includes fireworks, big and small.

The first celebration of Independence Day was in 1777, six years before Americans knew whether the new nation would even survive the war. According to the National Geographic, the use of fireworks was to ignite the population; to get them to believe they could be their own nation.

Now it's a day that many celebrate by taking off work, grilling outdoors and watching fireworks displays.

Don't let patriotic enthusiasm ruin the celebration by carelessly using fireworks.

"Fireworks are great fun and are an exciting way to celebrate our nation's freedom, whatever your age, but it's important to remember that they are not toys," Staff Sgt. Gary Lund, 502nd Air Base Wing ground safety technician. "They are explosives and the injuries they can cause, especially to the eyes, can be devastating."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 7,000 people were treated in emergency departments for fireworks-related injuries in 2011. The CDC reported that the highest injury rates occurred in children 10-14 years old. The majority of injuries involved hands, fingers, eyes and legs. Extreme cases resulted in the loss of fingers, limbs and vision.

"Good preparation is crucial for a successful and safe display," Lund said.

The following tips about fireworks can help avoid injury and encourage an injury-free Fourth of July.

When using fireworks, use common sense
· Never use fireworks in your home. Always set them off outside on a driveway or sidewalk
· Obey local laws. If fireworks are not legal where you live, do not use them.
· Always have copious amounts of water handy.
· Be aware of other people around you and make sure they are out of range of the fireworks you are using.
· Never point or shoot fireworks at another person.
· Use common sense. Spectators should keep a safe distance from the shooter, and the shooter should wear safety glasses.
· Do not try to re-ignite a "dud" as it could explode near your face or hands.
· Only light one at a time.
· Do not try to make your own fireworks.
· Read fireworks instructions before igniting it.
· Never drink and use fireworks.

Lund notes that even if the holiday isn't spent setting off personal fireworks but watching them at a public event, there can still be risks, especially ear injuries to young children.

Here are a few tips to heighten safety during public firework displays.

Fireworks shows
· Be aware of increased vehicle and pedestrian traffic.
· Be cautious of other drivers and people who may have been drinking.
· Be prepared and bring chairs or blankets, plenty of water to drink, sunscreen for the day and bug repellent for the night.
· Bring earplugs for every family member. You can find them at drug stores or sporting goods stores for a few dollars or less. But, for children 7-8 years old, these earplugs may be too big, so consider child-size ear muffs. Ear protection must fit properly in order to provide adequate protection.

"When attending public fireworks displays, sit at least 500 feet from where the fireworks are launched," Staff Sgt. Justin Lee, 359th Aerospace Medical Squadron NCO in charge of the readiness element, said. "The noise from fireworks, for spectators 800 feet away, ranges from 88 to 126 decibels. However, from 10 feet away, it's 155 decibels - louder than a military jet takeoff."

Lee added if an adult or child experiences a ringing or buzzing in the ear then it's best to move farther away or spend time in a quieter environment.

With these tips in mind, Joint Base San Antonio residents can help eliminate fireworks-related injuries this year and declare independence from accidents with fireworks safety.

"Remember to make smart decisions when using fireworks and to take proper precautions as indicated on the labels," Lund said. "If you or someone with you is injured by fireworks, seek immediate help or dial 911."

For more information, call the Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph's 502nd Air Base Wing safety office at 652-1842.