Guest Editorial by the American College of Emergency Physicians
For everyone to have a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July celebration, the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) has some suggestions to make sure illness or avoidable injuries do not ruin this year’s festivities.
“Getting together with family or friends for Independence Day is a time-honored tradition. But it is best to leave fireworks to the professionals,” said Mark Rosenberg, DO, MBA, FACEP, president of ACEP. “There are precautions you can take to limit your risk of illness or injury during the holiday. Smart behavior can make all the difference between a celebration and a medical emergency.”
If you do plan to use fireworks on your own, emergency physicians encourage you to follow these firework safety tips to limit your risk of serious burns or injury:
√ Make sure you buy fireworks, sparklers or other flammable items from reputable, legal sellers.
√ Keep a fire extinguisher and a large bucket of water or hose nearby.
√ Light one at a time and keep everything flammable away from children. This includes sparklers, which can burn hot enough to melt metal and cause serious burns or injuries.
√ Never try to relight or handle fireworks that malfunction or do not go off.
√ Do not ignite fireworks in containers. That could create dangerous shrapnel.
√ Avoid horseplay with or near fireworks, torches, candles or any flammable items; do not point fireworks at people or launch them toward anyone.
√ When lighting a firework do not stand directly over it. Back up immediately after it is lit.
√ After use, spray fireworks with water until soaked. Placing dry fireworks in a trash can creates a fire hazard.
√ As many state or local COVID-19 guidelines are updated, it is also important to take precautions to avoid getting or spreading the virus.
“We are making great progress against COVID with the help of the vaccines, but we’re not out of the woods just yet. Everyone should continue taking steps to keep themselves and their loved ones protected,” Rosenberg said.
The rates of COVID-19 vary across the country. It’s important to consider your local and state public health guidelines prior to hosting or attending an event. If you're going to be socializing with guests who haven't had a chance to get vaccinated yet, there are also some precautions you can take to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
In the event of a medical emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department.
“Every summer, many of us look forward to the warm weather, delicious food and the responsible celebration of our nation’s independence. But if you do have a medical emergency, you can trust that an emergency physician will be there to take care of you as we are every day, all year long,” Rosenberg said.
Visit www.emergencyphysicians.org for more health and safety tips.
The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) is the national medical society representing emergency medicine. Through continuing education, research, public education and advocacy, ACEP advances emergency care on behalf of its 40,000 emergency physician members, and the more than 150 million Americans they treat on an annual basis. For more information, visit www.acep.org and www.emergencyphysicians.org.