The Fourth of July is a holiday full of celebration. From barbeques and cooling off by the pool, to scenic firework shows, the Fourth of July often means a fun-filled day for families across the United States. However, patriotic fun can quickly take a devastating turn if proper safety precautions are not deployed.

Michael Clark

According to the latest updates from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there were more than 12,000 fireworks-related injuries in 2017 and eight fireworks-related deaths.

Here are some firework safety precautions to keep in mind this July 4 holiday:

Sparklers are dangerous. Sparklers burn at about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit—hotter than a blowtorch—and cause about 75 percent of the firework-related injuries in the U.S. Often it’s young children who get burned. Make sure kids can follow directions and are supervised by adults before allowing them to use a sparkler. Handle the sparkler by the non-burning tip, and when it’s done, drop it on a nonflammable surface, such as the pavement. Douse the sparkler in water before putting it in the trash.

Have a designated firework lighter. Like having a designated driver who is sober, it is a good idea to make sure the people handling the fireworks are not drinking alcoholic beverages. Drinking and driving as well as drinking and handling fireworks is a dangerous combination that can lead to deadly results.

Never hold a firecracker in your hand and then light it. Instead, light the firecracker on a non-burning surface like the pavement.

Do not light more than one firework at a time. Also, never try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Instead, soak them with water and throw them away.

Point Roman candles or bottle rockets in a safe direction — away from yourself, other people, animals or a field that could burn. Injuries happen when people get hit by these fireworks or they are holding a defective one that goes off in their hand. Bottle rocket wars are a bad idea.

Go to professionally run city or neighborhood firework displays and stay in the designated area away from the fireworks.

More July 4 safety tips:

  • Stay hydrated. Alcohol or caffeinated beverages do not count as hydration. Regular water breaks should be part of your holiday and summer activities.
  • Be careful when lighting a barbecue. Don’t stand over the barbecue when lighting it. Use a long match or long lighter, and keep hair pulled back and avoid loose-fitting shirts and flowing clothes.
  • Don’t drink and drive or drink and boat.

Michael Clark, M.D., M.P.H, is an emergency medicine and EMS physician at Ascension St. Clare’s Hospital, Weston, Ascension St. Michael’s Hospital, Stevens Point and Ascension Good Samaritan Hospital, Merrill.