By Adrianna Bradley
It’s time for Fourth of July celebrations — the night when skyrockets, missiles, and Roman candles illuminate our skies with crackling noises and whistling sounds. While the displays are visually compelling, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and the Columbia Fire Department is urging everyone to stay safe if they are participating in any firework activities this Independence Day holiday.
“Thousands of people are treated in emergency departments for injuries sustained from fireworks,” said Neal Martin, program coordinator of DHEC’s Division of Injury, and Violence Prevention. “You cannot take safety for granted when it comes to fireworks.”
Fireworks can be harmful
Fireworks-related injuries are preventable. They range from minor and major burns to fractures and amputations. In South Carolina, the most common fireworks-related injuries are burns and open wounds to the hands, legs, head, and eyes. About 53 percent of firework-related injuries occur in July, with an average of 80 hospitalizations and ER visits in the state.
“Fireworks are exciting to see this time of year, but they are dangerous when misused not only for the operator but also for bystanders and nearby structures,” said Bengie Leverett, Public Fire Education Officer at the Columbia Fire Department. “Everyone is urged to use extreme precaution when using the devices.”
Put safety first
The best way to prevent fireworks injuries is to leave fireworks displays to trained professionals. However, if you still want to light up fireworks at home, DHEC and the Columbia Fire Department want you to keep these safety tips in mind:
- Observe local laws. If you’re unsure whether it is legal to use fireworks, check with local officials.
- Monitor local weather conditions. Dry weather can make it easier for fireworks to start a fire.
- Store fireworks in a cool, dry place.
- Always read and follow directions on each firework.
- Only use fireworks outdoors, away from homes, dry grass, and trees.
- Always have an adult present when shooting fireworks.
- Ensure everyone is out of range before lighting fireworks.
- Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
- Light fireworks one at a time, and keep a safe distance.
- After fireworks complete their burning, douse them with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
- Point or throw fireworks at another person.
- Re-ignite malfunctioning fireworks.
- Experiment or attempt to make your own fireworks.
- Give fireworks to small children.
- Carry fireworks in your pocket.