By Dr. Manus Claw, TNT
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my life as a Doctor of Pyrotechnics and Patriotics, it’s that a well-planned Fourth of July firework display can be a source of great fun for the whole family.
If there’s another thing I’ve learned, it’s that thumbs are a precious commodity.
According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, fireworks sent 15,600 people to the hospital in 2019—a 50% increase from the previous year. Almost half of these were burns—and the vast majority were to the hands, eyes and face. (This includes thumbs.)
Does this mean we have to stop blowing stuff up on July 4th? Of course not! But it does mean we have to blow stuff up safely. (And not blow up our thumbs.)
Here are some simple Rules of Thumb to protect yours this Independence Day weekend:
DO encourage children to watch the fireworks from a safe distance and supervised.
DO NOT put your children in charge of the fireworks display.
DO launch your fireworks from flat, stable ground, where they will not tip over or fire unpredictably.
DO NOT launch fireworks from your hand, metal/glass containers, or any bodily orifice.
DO angle all fireworks up into the sky and away from buildings and fire hazards, such as dry vegetation.
DO NOT aim fireworks at friends, enemies, cars, animals, acquaintances, electrical wires or Jim.
DO keep some water nearby to douse any errant flames and to dispose of faulty fireworks.
DO NOT let your neighbor’s yard “burn itself out.”
DO light fireworks one at a time, and enjoy each moment.
DO NOT ruin everyone’s night by attempting the opposite and creating a horrible disaster that results in thousands of dollars of property damage and the disappearance of the family cat.
And remember: NEVER try to relight faulty fireworks or “duds,” and do not pick them up with your bare hands. The most dangerous firework is an unpredictable firework, and these should be carefully doused with water where they lay, before disposal.
Sparklers Can Smart!
Many parents don’t realize how dangerous even sparklers can be for young or unsupervised children.
Some sparklers can burn at heats in excess of 2000 degrees—hot enough to melt some metals and more than hot enough to melt that smile off your kid’s face if it gets too close.
But Dr. Claw… I Broke The Rules
So you did. And if you’re lucky, you still have your thumbs.
Thankfully, the Sarasota Memorial Health Care System has you covered for all firework-related injuries, big or small.
If injuries are severe, call 911 immediately.
Sarasota Memorial Hospital-Sarasota is home to Sarasota County’s only Level II Trauma Center, where our community can find 24-hour life-saving treatment for severe injury and accident.
For non-life-threatening injuries, including minor burns, we have eight Urgent Care Centers stretching from Heritage Harbor to Venice, with healthcare professionals standing by to assist you. Open from 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week, use our Save My Spot mobile app to skip the waiting room.
But you can save yourself a lot of time and hassle—not to mention thumbs—by practicing good firework safety to begin with.
Written by Sarasota Memorial copywriter Philip Lederer, MA, who crafts a variety of external communications for the healthcare system. SMH’s in-house wordsmith, Lederer earned his Master’s degree in Public Administration and Political Philosophy from Morehead State University, Ky, and sometimes goes by Dr. Claw.