Every year at this time, Dr. Erik Petersen sees people, and especially children, come into the Emergency Department at Centerpoint Medical Center with injuries that could have been prevented. Injuries caused by fireworks.

“Fireworks are fun and they’re pretty to watch, but people have to remember how dangerous they are,” says Dr. Petersen, a Board Certified Emergency Physician and Medical Director of Centerpoint’s Emergency Department. “At this time of year we see a lot of eye injuries, burns and damaged hands and fingers, all from the improper use of fireworks.”

To avoid a trip to the Emergency Department, first and foremost, obey local laws as they relate to fireworks use. If fireworks are not legal where you live, do not buy them or use them. Instead, check out local fireworks shows and enjoy the display from a safe distance.

If fireworks are legal, keep the following in mind:

  • Children should never play with fireworks. Firecrackers, rockets and sparklers are very dangerous. If your children play with sparklers, please make sure they keep them outside and away from their face, clothing and hair. Sparklers should be held away from their body at arm’s length and only one sparkler should be lit at a time.
  • Always use fireworks outside and have a bucket of water and a hose nearby in case of accidents.
  • Steer clear of other people using fireworks. Fireworks can backfire or shoot off in the wrong direction. Never throw or point fireworks at someone.
  • Don’t hold fireworks in your hand or have any part of your body over them while lighting. Wear eye protection and don’t carry fireworks in your pocket – the friction could set them off.
  • Light only one firework at a time and never relight a dud. Duds should be soaked in a bucket of water to make sure they don’t explode when you least expect it.
  • Do not pick up pieces of fireworks after an event. Some may still be ignited and could explode.
  • Do not use homemade fireworks.

“We want everyone to have a safe and happy holiday season,” adds Dr. Petersen. “By following these safety tips and remembering how dangerous fireworks can be, you can have a fun holiday without an unexpected trip to the hospital.”