SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — According to the Georgia Office of Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner, each Fourth of July weekend, fireworks start more fires nationwide than all other causes combined.
These fires cause an average of three deaths, 40 injuries, and $43 million in property damage in Georgia.
Memorial Health Emergency Department Medical Director Dr. Jay Goldstein says they see multiple fireworks-related injuries in the ER every year during the holiday weekend.
“When we start seeing the fireworks displays, we get very concerned. Especially when you start having children or alcohol and drugs,” Dr. Goldstein told WSAV NOW.
“We see a lot of burn injuries, we see a lot of blasts, we see a lot of people playing with fireworks they should not be playing with,” he added. “Especially the ones that have significantly more of an injury.”
Even the fireworks you’re familiar with could become dangerous if not used with caution.
“A lot of injuries we also see are from sparklers,” Goldstein said. “People think sparklers are safe, but they actually burn at a pretty high temperature. And we see significant burns related to them.”
He says it’s important to make sure no one under 18 years old tries to set off fireworks. If you plan on purchasing personal fireworks, make sure there is adult supervision.
Goldstein also advises using only certified fireworks and to avoid homemade explosives.
“Non-professional, backyard fireworks that you get in a brown paper bag, those explode, they have problems. The responsibility of handling fireworks…some don’t ignite initially and then people try to reignite them,” Goldstein explained.
“Kids try and shoot bottle rockets at each other, the Roman candles that cause burns, the sparklers, they all have a significant amount of danger to them. If you’re not handling them responsibly and doing the right thing, there’s a concern.”
Goldstein says most of the fireworks-related injuries they see in the emergency room are preventable and are connected to drug or alcohol consumption.
“Our recommendation is if you are going to use fireworks, use them safely. Make sure you’re doing everything you can to handle them safely. And make sure you don’t have drugs or alcohol around,” Goldstein said.
“If you’re going to use the kind with significant more explosive technology, we recommend leaving those to the professionals.”
When using fireworks this Fourth of July, Memorial Health advises practicing the following safety guidelines:
- Always read the labels and follow the directions for each specific type of firework
- Light fireworks outdoors and a safe distance away from other people and fire hazards
- Never re-ignite malfunctioning fireworks
- Do not give fireworks to small children
- Ensure that an adult supervises all firework activities
- If injuries and damages do occur, call 911
- Have a garden hose or bucket of water nearby
- If you do not feel safe lighting your own fireworks, feel free to attend a public fireworks display