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How not to spend the Fourth of July in the ER

June 28, 2018

A lit sparkler in a person's hand


When it comes to fireworks, no one’s more careful than you, right? Sure, the ones that fly and explode are illegal, but the kids love them, and you always take precautions.

The thing is, that’s what every fireworks burn victim and homeowner looking at fire damage due to fireworks thought, too. There’s a reason fireworks that fly and explode are illegal. Ultimately, it just doesn’t make sense to trust a flaming projectile to land safely away from your roof or car or eye or child.

In 2017, 86 people went to the hospital in Minnesota for fireworks injuries. And nearly one in five of those were children ages 0-9. In June and July alone last year, there was $720,575 in property damage caused by fireworks. It’s possible that some of these injuries and damages happened because people were not being at all careful when using fireworks. But it’s a pretty sure bet they all had one thing in common: They didn’t expect it to happen.

That’s why we take precautions (fireworks-related or otherwise): Because the unexpected could happen. So this Fourth of July, when you’re celebrating our nation’s independence with your family and friends, the best choice is to leave the fireworks displays to the professionals. If, however, you insist on using fireworks of your own, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Again, fireworks that fly or explode are illegal in Minnesota. Don’t use them.
  • Legal fireworks can be just as dangerous. Sparklers, for example, burn up to 1,200 degrees.
  • Before you touch a flame to anything, read the instructions on it first.
  • Always have an adult present, and keep fireworks away from small children.
  • Make sure said adult is not under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Choose a place away from animals, buildings, storage tanks, brush and other combustibles.
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby for storing spent sparkler wires and extinguishing fireworks.
  • Light only one device at a time.
  • Never try to relight a firework that doesn’t ignite the first time. Put it in the water bucket instead.
  • If it looks damaged, don’t use it. Put it in the water bucket too.

Most importantly, remember that even with the best of precautions, you’re dealing with incendiary devices that burn at hundreds — if not thousands — of degrees. They’re dangerous by definition. Leaving the fireworks displays to the professionals will make your Fourth of July safer and more fun—and make it much more likely that you won’t spend the holiday in the ER or with the fire department.