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Safely Celebrating the 4th of July

By Lillian Liao

Note: This article is an updated version of the original article that was posted on July 2, 2020.

Celebrating the 4th of July with a huge family cookout or neighborhood block party sounds near-mythical after a solid year of social distancing. But if you’re vaccinated and gathering outside, this long-delayed fantasy could become reality.

As the number of fully vaccinated people in our community continues to rise, we’re freer to celebrate holidays outdoors. We know COVID-19 spreads most in community settings where people are in close contact, like picnics and parties. However, the CDC stated that fully vaccinated people can gather without wearing masks. Masks are still strongly encouraged around people who have not been vaccinated or are considered high-risk.

While the threat of COVID-19 loosens its grip on the fully vaccinated, fireworks and sparklers remain an age-old safety concern. Firework-related injuries spike during the summer months, especially between mid-June and mid-July.

Instead of fireworks, consider other ways of showing your patriotic cheer: Blow soap bubbles, spray silly string or toss cascarones, water balloons or streamers. 

If you have purchased your own fireworks, please take precautions when using them at home. Children can be especially vulnerable to firework-related injuries because most parents do not consider the safety risks associated with seemingly harmless fireworks, like sparklers. The National Safety Council recommends swapping sparklers for glow sticks and colored streamers, especially around young children.

“Sparklers, which are often considered safe for small children, can burn up to temperatures of 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit, the same heat as from a blow torch,” said Dr. Lilian Liao, pediatric trauma and burn director at University Hospital. “They can not only cause serious injuries to kids, but can also be a fire hazard."

Keep your family safe around fireworks

If you choose to use fireworks this week, here are some important safety tips to remember:

  • A responsible adult should supervise children at all times.
  • Never mix alcohol and fireworks. Save that drink for later.
  • Always have a bucket of water and water hose nearby.
  • Use fireworks in an outdoor area away from buildings.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
  • Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
  • After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.

And remember—if someone does suffer a firework-related injury or burn it’s important to seek medical attention as quickly as possible.

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