LIVINGSTON, NJ — It’s fun to watch fireworks, and it’s important to enjoy them safely.

It has been almost one year since New Jersey legalized the sale of some types of fireworks which can now be found in retail stores across the state. People who are 16 years and older are legally allowed to buy hand-held sparklers and ground-based sparklers as well as certain novelty items including party poppers and snappers.

Michael Marano, MD, Medical Director of The Burn Center at Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, and a specialist in critical care and burn surgery, cautions that all fireworks, even those available for purchase in New Jersey, are dangerous.

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“The Fourth of July brings fun, but it also brings some risks, especially in the case of fireworks," said Dr. Marano. "Most important is that children never use fireworks. This includes readily available sparklers which are the most common source of fire-related injuries.”

About two-thirds of fireworks injuries happen each year in a one-month span surrounding July 4, with most accidents resulting from store-bought items used by armatures, Dr. Marano explains. To safely view a Fourth of July display, he recommends attending a local community event performed by professionals.

If using legalized fireworks, The Burn Center at Saint Barnabas, New Jersey’s only certified burn treatment facility, asks that you please follow the safety precautions noted below from the National Council of Fireworks Safety:

  • A responsible adult should supervise all firework activities.  Never give fireworks to children.
  • Read the package and follow instructions on lighting and extinguishing fireworks.
  • Read the cautionary labels and performance descriptions before igniting.
  • Dispose of spent fireworks by wetting them down and place in a metal trash can away from any building or combustible materials until the next day.
  • Always have a bucket of water and charged water hose nearby.
  • Alcohol and fireworks do not mix.  Save your alcohol for after the show.
  • Wear safety glasses when shooting fireworks.
  • Light one firework at a time and then quickly move away.
  • Use fireworks OUTDOORS in a clear area; away from buildings and vehicles.
  • Never relight a “dud” firework.  Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
  • Never carry fireworks in your POCKET or shoot them into METAL or GLASS containers.
  • Do not experiment with homemade fireworks.

In the event of a burn, it is important to immediately take the following steps:

  • Cool all burns with tepid to cool water. Continue flushing the area for up to 10 minutes. Do not apply ice, ointments, butter or other “home remedies.” Remove all clothing or garments to reduce the contact time with the hot items.
  • Cover affected areas with a clean dry cloth, towel or blanket to protect the burn and minimize pain.
  • Seek immediate medical attention, especially in burns involving children and older adults and in cases where skin is sloughing.

“Treating a significant burn on your own can lead to serious complications," said Dr. Marano. "Your skin is the first line of defense against infection. Burns should be examined and treated by a physician, especially when it affects those that are very young or very advanced in age.”

For more information about fire safety and burn prevention, visit www.njburncenter.com