If you’re planning on lighting sparklers this Fourth of July, believing they are among the safest fireworks, think again. Doctors with HCA Florida Healthcare say they are actually among the most dangerous, particularly for children.

Sparklers are often wrongly considered child-friendly

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“Families treat sparklers way too casually, and children are typically at the greatest risk of injury,” said Dr. Daniel Westawski, a plastic surgery and microsurgery specialist on staff at HCA Florida Blake Hospital in Bradenton. “When lit, the magnesium that adds white sparks and overall brilliance to a sparkler becomes super hot, much hotter than a wood flame or gas stove.”

Sparklers burn at temperatures up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, hot enough to melt metal and glass, and can easily ignite clothing and hair.

As a result, Westawski said HCA Florida Healthcare emergency rooms are again preparing for fireworks-related injuries of hands, fingers, the head, face and eyes.

“Then you have those who put two or three sparklers together to create an even bigger effect. That’s when things could get really out of control,” he added.

In 2020, an estimated 15,600 people were hospitalized with injuries related to fireworks – the highest number in the last 15 years, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reported. Sixty-six percent of the injuries happened between June 21, 2020 and July 21, 2020.

Dr. Westawski recommends those using sparklers have a large bucket of water to douse the hot magnesium sticks. This will prevent anyone from stepping on them after use.

“Even if they don’t light, always place the item in a bucket of water,” he added.

Injuries also occur when individuals try to launch fireworks from their hands or throw them after they’ve been lit, according to Westawski.

Doctors advise those celebrating the Fourth of July to adhere to the following safety protocols:

  • If you are using fireworks, light them from a safe distance.
  • Follow the directions on the label.
  • Use long lighters.
  • As always, attend public fireworks displays and leave the lighting to the professionals.

Backyard Grilling Can Go Wrong in a Flash 

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Mishandled fireworks aren’t the only culprits of ER visits over the Fourth of July holiday. An improperly lit backyard grill is also a prime culprit.

“We see a lot of flash burns from backyard grills,” said Dr. Michael Van Vliet, Burn Medical Director at HCA Florida Blake Hospital.

Flash burns occur when the pilot or source of heat is lit when the grill closed, creating a flash when the lid is opened. Dr. Van Vliet said the grill cover should always be open whenever igniting a source so that none of the gas or propane is contained.

He added individuals should make sure all connections to the grill are completely tight to prevent any leaking of gas or propane. Those grilling should also wear short sleeves or roll them up when cooking.