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Consider safe fireworks alternatives this July 4th, Parkland experts caution

Consider safe fireworks alternatives this July 4th, Parkland experts caution

Third-degree burns can happen in seconds

Nothing is more synonymous with summer than barbecues, burgers and booms from July 4th fireworks displays. However, large events are not for everyone. Some prefer to celebrate at home with a family pool party and put on their own show. If you’re one of them, Parkland Health experts want to remind you how quickly a festivity can turn into a tragedy if not handled with caution.

“There are no safe fireworks. If not handled properly they can cause serious and even life-threatening injuries,” said Sarah Scoins, MSN, RN, CNS, CCRN, ACCNS-AG, Parkland’s Burn Outreach and Injury Prevention Educator. “Sparklers are just as dangerous. In seconds, a sparkler can fall on someone’s foot or clothing and cause third-degree burns.”

A new report by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) found a significant upward trend in fireworks-related injuries. Between 2006 and 2021, injuries with fireworks climbed 25% in the U.S., according to CPSC estimates. In 2021, at least nine people died and an estimated 11,500 were injured in incidents involving fireworks.

Young adults 20 to 24 years of age had the highest estimated rate of emergency department-treated, fireworks-related injuries in 2021, the last year figures are available from the CPSC. In 2021, there were an estimated 1,500 emergency department-related injuries and of those, 1,100 involved sparklers.

Last year, seven patients were treated in Parkland’s Burn Center due to burn injuries sustained from fireworks. Most firework burn injuries are to the hands, fingers, legs and eyes. If a burn injury does happen, cool the burn with cool (not cold) water to stop the burning process, remove all clothing and jewelry from the injured area, cover the area with a dry clean sheet or loose bandages and seek medical attention, Scoins said.

“Leave the fireworks to the professionals and consider using safer alternatives, such as glow sticks, confetti poppers or colored streamers,” said Scoins. “The last thing we want is for a party to turn into a tragedy or to overwhelm our first responders and healthcare workers with accidents that could have been prevented.”

If fireworks are legal to buy where you live and you choose to use them, be sure to follow these safety tips:

  • Never allow young children to handle fireworks
  • Older children should use them only under close adult supervision
  • Never use fireworks while impaired by drugs or alcohol
  • Anyone using fireworks or standing nearby should wear protective eyewear
  • Never hold lighted fireworks in your hands
  • Never light them indoors
  • Only use them away from people, houses and flammable material
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person
  • Only light one device at a time and maintain a safe distance after lighting
  • Never ignite devices in a container
  • Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks
  • Soak both spent and unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don't go off or in case of fire
  • Never use illegal fireworks

Established in 1962, the Parkland Burn Center provides care to more than 800 inpatients annually. Serving North Texas and surrounding areas, this comprehensive burn center is one of only 64 verified burn centers in North America and the only one verified to treat adults and pediatrics in North Texas and provides all services from emergency treatment to intensive care to rehabilitation and outpatient follow-up care.

For more information on services available at Parkland, please visit