Fireworks safety tips

June 27, 2014

The safest way to watch fireworks is to view them at one of the myriad public Fourth of July celebrations held throughout Orange County and Southern California, UC Irvine Health experts say.

But if you do have your own family affair — and your city allows it — “have a discussion with your child about the danger of fireworks,” says Dr. Bharath Chakravarthy, a UC Irvine Health emergency medicine specialist.

“I’ve seen little kids with second- and third-degree burns on their hands and face,” he says. “These kinds of injuries can change how they interact with society for the rest of their lives.”

Learn more about the dangers of fireworks — legal and illegal ›

Chakravarthy, associate director of the Center for Trauma and Injury Prevention Research at the UC Irvine School of Medicine, says parents should keep these rules in mind:

  • Never let children under the age of 8 handle anything flammable, including sparklers, which burn hot enough to melt glass and some metals.
  • Never let children age 8 and older light fireworks unsupervised.
  • Limit alcohol consumption around fireworks, especially if you are the supervising adult.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Safe Kids Worldwide offer additional fireworks safety tips:

  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting it.
  • Light fireworks one at a time.
  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
  • Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Keep a garden hose or bucket of water handy in case of fire or other mishap.
  • Douse extinguished fireworks with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
  • Never light fireworks indoors or near dried grass or brush.
  • Never point fireworks toward a home or other structure.
  • Do not buy fireworks packaged in brown paper, which can be a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and pose a danger to consumers.
  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them. 

— Kristina Lindgren, UC Irvine Health Marketing & Communications

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