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Everyday EMS
by Greg Friese

Fireworks Safety and Injury Prevention

When my good friend began screaming that he could not see, I knew something was seriously wrong. A bottle rocket had just exploded in front of his face, causing superficial and partial thickness burns around his left eye. Fortunately, he had a normal return of vision.

According to a 2005 CDC study, more than 10,000 people are treated each year in U.S. emergency departments for firework-related injuries. Children suffer injuries at a disproportionate rate. As you certainly know, the busiest time of year for fireworks is mid-June through the July 4th weekend. EMS agencies and personnel should join the CDC and other injury prevention agencies to reduce firework-related injuries.

Share these Everyday EMS Tips with your community to reduce firework-related injuries:

• Follow all local ordinances regarding sales, purchasing, and use of fireworks.

• Only sober and competent adults should be handling and lighting fireworks.

• Follow fireworks guidelines for establishing a hot zone where only the adult lighting the fireworks is allowed.

• Wear hearing, eye, and hand protection when lighting fireworks to lessen risk of injury from noise, flames, or shrapnel.

• Never launch fireworks towards any person or animal.

• Position observers a safe distance that is upwind from any launching, burning, or falling fireworks.

• Do not handle any fireworks that are burning, smoldering, or smoking.

• Do not light fireworks in or near buildings, debris, or other structures that could easily catch fire.

Share your stories of patients injured by fireworks at EMSConnect.

About the author

Greg Friese is Editor-in-Chief of He is an educator, author, paramedic, and marathon runner. Ask questions or submit tip ideas to Greg by e-mailing him at

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