While fireworks are beautiful to watch, they are dangerous to play with, Abrazo Health medical professionals warn.

If not handled properly, fireworks can cause severe injuries to eyes and skin. Even just watching a friend light fireworks can put you at risk.

Play it safe, allowing for everyone to enjoy the holiday, said Kevin Haselhorst, an Emergency Medicine physician on staff at Abrazo Health’s Arrowhead and West Valley hospitals.

“While the Fourth of July is intended to celebrate independence, injury to the hands or eyes will limit independence,’’ he added. “ Similar to fireworks, the good the bad and the ugly can result from planning, happenstance and carelessness respectively. The same level of attention that is given to public fireworks is especially necessary when firecrackers are held in the hand or close to the face.’’

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 11,400 fireworks-related injuries happened in 2013. Of these, 65 percent occurred in the 30 days surrounding July 4th. Last year, children younger than the age of 5 experienced a higher injury rate than other age groups.
In fact, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) noted that children ages 5 to 14 had a two-and-a-half times’ greater risk of fireworks injury than the general population. While the best way to prevent these types of injuries is to leave the show to the experts, it is incredibly important to make sure that children do not handle fireworks.

Even fireworks sold at a grocery store, such as sparklers or other small novelties, are just as dangerous. Sparklers, which can burn at more than 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and bottle rockets accounted for nearly 40 percent of all estimated injuries in 2013. Firecrackers and bottle rockets that explode near a person may cause injury to the hands or face.

Children, who are naturally curious and want to see how things work, may unintentionally put themselves in harm’s way when playing near fireworks. They can get too close to a lit firecracker or try to examine a dud that hasn’t ignited properly. Always make sure that children have close adult supervision near fireworks.

If you or a friend chooses to handle fireworks, the National Council on Firework Safety offers these tips:

· Use fireworks outdoors only.

· Obey local laws. If fireworks are not legal where you live, do not use them.

· Always have water handy. (A hose or bucket).

· Only use fireworks as intended. Don’t try to alter them or combine them.

· Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.

· Use common sense. Spectators should keep a safe distance from the shooter and the shooter should wear safety glasses.

· Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Have a “designated shooter.”

· Only persons over the age of 12 should be allowed to handle sparklers of any type.

· Do not ever use homemade fireworks of illegal explosives: They can kill you! Report illegal explosives to the fire or police department in your community.