Fireworks facts for an injury-free July Fourth weekend

Fireworks are set to fly once again this Independence Day weekend. Medical professionals hope their warnings will steer you clear of permanent injuries. Their July Fourth mantra is to celebrate safely.

“The variety of different explosive injuries can be quite severe,” says Dr. Stephen Kennedy, a UW Medicine hand and wrist surgeon. “These can be devastating injuries to people's hands that can really change their lives.”

Last year, Kennedy says, UW Medicine performed 42 finger amputations and two full-hand amputations caused by fireworks injuries.

“Wherever possible, try to watch public displays and leave these fireworks to the professionals,” he said.

If you plan to light fireworks, he offered these considerations to protect yourself, your family and your community:

  • Wear eye protection.
  • Use long-stemmed lighters to protect your hands.
  • Young children should never ignite fireworks. Adults need to supervise all fireworks activity.
  • Never throw or aim fireworks at people.
  • Never look down tube of unexploded fireworks.
  • Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
  • Never pick up or attempt to re-light fireworks that failed to explode as quickly as you expected.
  • Follow instructions on fireworks packaging.
  • Don’t combine fireworks or attempt to create your own.
  • Never light fireworks on grass or near brush.
  • Always have water available (such as a garden hose or filled bucket) to safely douse used fireworks and to prevent mishaps.

UW Medicine