Fourth of July: Why Experts Are Saying to Skip the Fireworks


For states across the country, the Fourth of July will be different this year.

Today reported that cities had canceled their fireworks display to make sure people social distance to slow the spread of COVID-19. But there are other concerns when it comes to the safety of a fireworks display - even an at-home, socially distanced one.

If you're planning to set off fireworks, experts say that it is dangerous.

Dr. Jenny Ziembicki, medical director of the Burn Center at UPMC Mercy in Pittsburgh, said there is no safe way to do so, and people should leave the fireworks for the professionals.

"Even sparklers can reach up to 2000 degrees Fahrenheit and cause full... injuries," Ziembicki said.

The doctor said anyone too close to fireworks is in danger. She said the person lighting them is probably most at risk.

She went on to say that doctors see devasting injuries when it comes to fireworks. People experience burns on their faces and hands while they can damage their vision and lose fingers.

"I've had very smart, very well-educated people have very severe injuries because they thought they knew what they were doing," she said. "There's just such an unpredictable nature."

Gina P. Duchossois, an expert with the Injury Prevention Program at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, said because these things are strange, experts do not have any data showing that more people are setting off fireworks. She agreed that these pyrotechnics could cause injuries.

Ziembicki urges people to know that legal and smaller fireworks do not mean that it is safer.

"There's just no regulation of them. So you really don't know what you're getting — even if you think that you're buying something that's fairly safe," she said.

Sparklers, which are smaller and burn quickly, tend to get hot and account for all fireworks injuries.

If you encounter someone getting a burn injury or firework-related injury, it's best to get help ASAP. If the burn is small, it is fine to rinse it off with cool, not cold water. If you receive second-degree or third-degree burns, you should quickly go to the hospital.

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