June 30, 2014

Sparklers, firecrackers and roman candles are a traditional part of Fourth of July and Independence Day celebrations and gatherings. But fireworks also are dangerous explosives that cause millions of dollars in property damage and nearly 10,000 emergency room visits nationally each year. Fireworks also are illegal in many counties, including Knox County.

“Every year, we see an uptick in injuries caused by fireworks,” said Priority Ambulance Director of Operations Dennis Rowe. “Emergency rooms are flooded with fireworks injuries, including burns on the arms and face, scarring, ear trauma, eye injuries and even in rare instances, loss of limb.”

Mishaps from fireworks often are due to unsafe handling or being too close to the devices. But defects, including short fuses and overcharging, also can cause injuries. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) states that a national average of 200 people are admitted daily to emergency rooms for fireworks injuries during the month-long period around July 4.

Priority Ambulance recommends leaving the fireworks for the pros as the safest option for families this holiday weekend. Purchasing, using or storing fireworks is illegal in Knox, Anderson and Blount counties. Before purchasing or using fireworks, check local county and municipality fireworks laws.

If operating fireworks in a legal area, follow these tips:

  • Purchase fireworks from reliable distributors.
  • Keep a bucket of water or garden hose nearby.
  • Do not wear loose-fitting clothing.
  • Alcohol and fireworks do not mix.
  • Young children should never be allowed to play with fireworks of any type.
  • Children under 15 are the most likely population to sustain fireworks-related injuries and should always be supervised by an adult.
  • According to the CPSC, sparklers top the list of common fireworks that cause injuries. A standard sparkler can burn up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and can cause severe burns or eye injuries.
  • Never open the fireworks packaging. The powder inside fireworks is highly flammable. If powder gets on skin, it can ignite, causing serious burns.
  • Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks. Don’t place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse.
  • Never relight or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully. Soak in water and discard them.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
  • Never carry fireworks in a pocket or ignite them in metal or glass containers.

“The safest way to enjoy fireworks this year is to take advantage of one of the many licensed, professional fireworks shows that take place throughout Knox and the surrounding counties,” Rowe said. “If you do decide to purchase personal fireworks, celebrate the Fourth safety and legally.”

The City of Knoxville is putting on its free annual Festival on the Fourth in World’s Fair Park. The festival with free food and music begins at 4 p.m. on July 4. The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra will play a free concert at 8 p.m. before a spectacular fireworks display at 9:35 p.m.

The City of Lenoir City presents “Rockin’ the Dock” on July 5 at 5 p.m. with free live music and fireworks.

About Priority Ambulance:

Based in Knoxville, Priority Ambulance is the only national ambulance company headquartered in East Tennessee. Priority Ambulance provides the highest level of clinical excellence in emergency and nonemergency medical care to the communities it serves. Throughout its national service area, more than 300 highly trained paramedics, EMTs and telecommunicators staff state-of-the-art ambulances with the latest medical equipment and technology.