Doctors and emergency personnel urge fireworks safety this Fourth of July

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(KXAN/NBC) — As red, white and blue lights fill the sky on this Fourth of July, doctors and emergency personnel want to remind people to stay safe and take precautions while setting off fireworks.

“On July 5, we’ll be about 10 fingers short than we were on July 4 in the City of Austin,” said Dr. Jayson Aydelotte, a trauma surgeon at Dell Seton Medical Center at The University of Texas.

Aydelotte said there are two major concerns to keep in mind when handling fireworks.

“One of them is shooting a firework at somebody else and that person getting hit in the eye or the face, and then the other one is holding on to a firework for too long and it blowing your fingers off,” he said.

Last year, Dell Seton Medical Center doctors saw 77 severe trauma patients during the Fourth of July week. Out of the 77 people, six had severe burns.

Emergency personnel at Austin-Travis County EMS are ready to respond.

“We do see an increase in these types of incidents as far as firework-related injuries,” Capt. Jason Beggs said.

Beggs said if people plan to pop fireworks on the holiday they should keep in mind, “these are not devices you need to hold in your hand, so light them on the ground and if it is a ‘dud,’ per se, please wet it down with water and make sure that it is absolutely out.”

The National Council on Fireworks Safety recommends the following: 

  • Obey all local laws regarding the use of fireworks. In Austin, people are not allowed to light fireworks within the city limits. 
  • Know your fireworks; read the cautionary labels and performance descriptions before igniting.
  • A responsible adult should supervise all firework activities.  Never give fireworks to children.
  • Alcohol and fireworks do not mix.  Save your alcohol for after the show.
  • Wear safety glasses when shooting fireworks.
  • Light one firework at a time and then quickly move away.
  • Use fireworks outdoors in a clear area away from buildings and vehicles.
  • Never relight a “dud” firework.  Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
  • Always have a bucket of water and charged water hose nearby.
  • Never carry fireworks in your pocket or shoot them into metal or glass containers.
  • Do not experiment with homemade fireworks.
  • Dispose of spent fireworks by wetting them down and place in a metal trash can away from any building or combustible materials until the next day.
  • FAA regulations prohibit the possession and transportation of fireworks in your checked baggage or carry-on luggage.
  • Report illegal explosives, like M-80s and quarter sticks, to the fire or police department.

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