JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – As we roll into the 4th of July holiday weekend, officials are reminding Mississippians that fireworks are explosives, not toys. They can be fun and beautiful, but they are always dangerous. They send thousands of people to the hospital each year and cause millions of dollars in fire losses. Know how to keep you and your family safe.

Well, how dangerous are they? The United States Fire Administration (USFA) reports over 11,000 people are injured by fireworks every year. Nearly half those injured by fireworks are under the age of 15. Fingers and hands are what’s injured most often. But the American Academy of Ophthalmology estimates fireworks cause nearly 2,000 eye injuries with permanent eye damage each year. They can also cause permanent hearing loss, second and third degree burns and amputations.

Additionally, USFA estimates that bottle rockets and other fireworks cause over 6,000 fires each year.

Officials with AMR of Central Mississippi recommend following these tips to maximize safety when handling fireworks:

  • Follow instructions on the fireworks packaging.
  • Never shoot fireworks after drinking alcohol.
  • Never set off fireworks in bottles, cans or other objects.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Never shoot devices near buildings, over roofs or near power lines.
  • Never try to re-light or fix fireworks that have not gone off. Wait 15 to 20 minutes before approaching a “dud” and then soak it in water.
  • Always keep a safe distance from fireworks staging areas.
  • Protect your eyes by wearing safety glasses or safety goggles. Prescription eyeglasses, sunglasses and contact lenses provide little to no protection from fireworks.
  • Soak fireworks devices with water after they appear to have burned out.
  • Never use homemade fireworks.
  • Never extend any part of the body over fireworks devices while lighting them or after they have been lit.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose and a first aid kit nearby.
  • Always follow local fireworks ordinances and related directives from police and fire personnel.
  • In case of eye injuries, do not touch, rub or press the injured eye. Call 9-1-1 for paramedics who will treat the victim and safely transport him or her to a hospital.
  • In case of burn injuries, cover the burns with a dry dressing and call 9-1-1 for paramedic care.

Sparklers are among the most common fireworks at private celebrations. Adults often let small children hold sparklers because they seem harmless. But sparklers are dangerous. Sparklers get as hot as 2,000 degrees – as hot as a blow torch. They can cause serious burns long after burning out. To avoid injuries from sparklers:

  • The safe way to enjoy sparklers is to plant them in the ground away from dry grass and then have an adult light them.
  • Do not hold more than one sparkler at a time. Always stand when playing with sparklers and do not run while holding them.
  • If two or more people are holding sparklers, they should be at least six feet from each other when their arms are outstretched.
  • Hold sparklers at arm’s length, away from the body. Do not hand a lit sparkler to anyone.
  • Wear shoes with closed toes.
  • Adults and older children should never carry a child who is holding a sparkler.
  • Do not try to relight a burnt-out sparkler.
  • Douse every burnt-out sparkler in a pail of water.