The Fourth of July typically means gathering with family and friends, firing up the grill and enjoying the unofficial launch of summer. Unfortunately, sometimes it also means an unexpected trip to the Emergency Department due to burns or other injuries. Although this year’s Independence Day celebrations may look different with many celebrating at home, University of Vermont Health Network officials urge caution around fireworks, fire pits and grills.
“We want your summer memories to be happy ones! Make sure they don’t include a trip to our trauma center. Being mindful of potential dangers can limit your risk for injuries and burns this Fourth of July,” said Abby Beerman, injury prevention coordinator at UVM Medical Center.
It’s best to leave fireworks to the professionals, but if you are tempted to put on your own show be sure to obey all local and state laws. In Vermont, all fireworks (not including sparklers and other novelty smoke devices) are illegal except for permitted, supervised public fireworks displays. That means bottle rockets, Roman candles, fountains and firecrackers are illegal in Vermont. The same is true in New York State, which only allows the sale and use of “sparkling devices,” which are defined as “ground-based or handheld devices that produce a shower of colored sparks and/or a colored flame, audible crackling or whistling noise and smoke.” However, local governments can pass their own laws restricting the use of sparkling devices, so be sure to check with your county or city of residence for local restrictions. And keep in mind the following safety tips:
- Before setting off any legal fireworks, completely read the warning labels and performance descriptions. Fireworks should be lit one at a time in an open, level area that is free of structures or flammable materials. Have buckets of water or another means to extinguish potential fires at hand at all times. After a firework is lit, quickly move away. Outside of burns, one of the most common injuries from fireworks is eye injuries.
- Sparklers can burn at 2,000 degrees, which is hot enough to melt metal, catch clothes on fire, or cause serious burns. A responsible adult should supervise all use of sparklers and they should be placed in a container of water when finished. Never let a child use more than one sparkler at a time.
- Never carry sparklers or fireworks in your pocket or set them off in metal or glass containers.
July is the peak month for grill fires. When grilling, it is important to make sure your keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grates or trays. When lighting a gas grill, make sure the lid is open. When lighting a charcoal grill, if using a starter fluid, apply it only to the charcoal. Never add lighter fluid or other flammable liquids to flames in a charcoal grill.
Have a child- and pet-free area around the grill to prevent accidental thermal burns. Grills can stay hot for over an hour after cooking.
If having an outdoor fire, always have a way to extinguish the flames close at hand and build the fire so it is completely contained within the fire pit or bowl.
When grilling, using sparklers, or setting up an outdoor fire, keep a clear head. Alcohol and other substances can affect your reaction time and balance, leading to avoidable injuries.
This year, also be sure to practice social distancing and wear a mask or facial covering when gathering in groups. Make sure to wash hands frequently and provide plenty of hand sanitizer.
From all of us to you and yours, here’s to a safe and happy July 4 holiday!
About The University of Vermont Health Network
The University of Vermont Health Network is an integrated system serving the residents of Vermont and northern New York with a shared mission: working together, we improve people’s lives. The partners are:
- The University of Vermont Medical Center
- The University of Vermont Health Network Medical Group
- The University of Vermont Health Network – Alice Hyde Medical Center
- The University of Vermont Health Network – Central Vermont Medical Center
- The University of Vermont Health Network – Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital
- The University of Vermont Health Network – Elizabethtown Community Hospital
- The University of Vermont Health Network – Porter Medical Center
- The University of Vermont Health Network – Home Health & Hospice
Our 4,000 health care professionals are driven to provide high-quality, cost-efficient care as close to home as possible. Strengthened by our academic connection to the University of Vermont, each of our affiliates remains committed to its local community by providing compassionate, personal care shaped by the latest medical advances and delivered by highly skilled experts.