Health Encyclopedia

Essential Guidelines for Fireworks Safety

Thousands of Americans, many of them children, are injured each year in incidents associated with fireworks, according to the National Council of Fireworks Safety. Most of these injuries occur during the Fourth of July holiday and include serious burns, loss of fingers, and blindness.

Though the most disabling injuries occur with illegal firecrackers, such as M-80s, the majority of injuries are caused by bottle rockets, sparklers, and Roman candles.

Staying safe

Viewing public displays handled by professionals is the safest way to enjoy fireworks on the Fourth of July or any other day. Even then, keep a safe distance away.

If you plan to celebrate the holiday with your own fireworks, these precautions can help prevent injuries:

  • Don't let children play with the fireworks.

  • Never place any part of your body over a fireworks device.

  • Make sure anyone who handles fireworks wears safety goggles to protect the eyes from flying sparks or debris.

  • Don't use bottle rockets. Their flight paths are often erratic, and rocket launchers sometimes explode, sending pieces of glass or metal flying.

  • Don't consume alcohol when using fireworks.

  • Read the cautionary labels.

  • Don't try to re-light fireworks that have not worked properly.

  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of malfunction or fire.

  • Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.

  • Follow label directions.

  • Ignite fireworks outdoors.

  • Light only one at a time.

  • Buy from reliable fireworks sellers.

  • Never give fireworks to small children.

  • Never carry fireworks in your pocket.

In case of eye injury

If an accident injures someone's eyes, these actions can help protect the victim's sight:

  • Don't delay medical attention, even if the injury seems minor.

  • Don't attempt to rinse out the eye. This can be very damaging.

  • Avoid putting pressure on the eye. Avoid touching the injury. 

  • Don't give the victim aspirin or ibuprofen to try reducing the pain. These thin the blood and might increase bleeding.

  • Don't apply ointment or any medication. It's probably not sterile.



Medical Reviewers:

  • Larson, Kim APRN, FNP
  • newMentor board-certified, academically affiliated clinician