Experts with Ascension St. Vincent give firework safety tips

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INDIANAPOLIS- Firework sales are on the rise this year, and Marion County 911 has already seen a 700% increase in fireworks-related calls, still days away from the 4th of July.

With organized shows canceled, sales for home-based fireworks are skyrocketing, as people are ready to celebrate.

“We got a little stuff for the kids. Got some tanks, roosters, bottle rockets, some stuff to set off in the backyard,” Joshua Garrett said as he and his family walked out of Jay’s Fireworks on the north side.

He says the usual set off a display every 4th of July.

“We try to be good neighbors and keep the fireworks around the 4th of July, so we usually focus on that point and set off a big show in the neighborhood,” Garrett said. “Which is more important this year with all the events being canceled.”

Fireworks stores like Phantom Fireworks say items are flying off the shelves. Marion County 911 is expecting 3,000 calls on the 4th of July alone. With those rising numbers, emergency rooms are preparing too.

“With more people doing home-based fireworks displays, it’s not unreasonable to think there would be more injuries associated with those fireworks,” said Dr. Ian Ferries, a trauma surgeon with Ascension St. Vincent.

Dr. Ferries with Ascension St Vincent sees fireworks injuries every year around the 4th of July, having serious and long-lasting effects.

“You’re literally playing with fire when you’re using these fireworks,” Dr. Ferries said. “Most of the injuries come to the hands and fingers, the arms… those generally account for almost half of the injuries that are sustained.”

Dr. Ferries says nearly half of those patients are under 20 years old, and a third are under 15. It’s important for parents to run the show at home.

“Oftentimes it’s kids who are most likely to injure themselves with fireworks, so have somebody who’s experienced and responsible be the one who’s lighting the fireworks.”

While Garret’s kids enjoy the show, he says they make sure someone older runs it.

“No kids touching anything, we essentially create a zone where they can’t go in when we’re lighting things off,” Garrett said. “They’ve got to respect them otherwise they can do some pretty bad harm.”

Experts at Ascension St. Vincent and the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommend the following safety tips: 

  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
  • Avoid buying fireworks that are made for professional displays.
  • Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities, including sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt some metals.
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
  • Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
  • After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.

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