Getting ready for a fun Fourth of July? Follow these tips from Dr. Ben Coopwood Jr., a trauma surgeon and burn specialist at Dell Seton Medical Center, which now has a burn unit.
1. Sparklers are dangerous. They cause about 75 percent of the firework-related injuries in the U.S., which is also true for Austin. Sparklers burn at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, hotter than a blowtorch, Coopwood says. Often it’s young children who get burned. Make sure kids are able to follow directions and are supervised by adults before allowing them to use a sparkler. Handle the sparkler by the non-burning tip, and when it’s done, drop it on a nonflammable surface like the pavement. Douse it in water before putting it in the trash.
2. Never hold a firecracker in your hand and then light it. Instead, light it on a non-burning surface like the pavement.
3. Point Roman candles or bottle rockets (which are not legal in Austin) in a safe direction — away from yourself, other people, animals or a field that could burn. Injuries happen when either people get hit by these fireworks or they are holding a defective one that goes off in their hand. Those bottle rocket wars adults grew up on are a bad idea.
4. Do not light more than one firework at a time. Not all of them will go off, and you will have unlighted fireworks all over the place.
5. Have a designated fireworks lighter. “People who are handling fireworks and are drinking make these same errors in judgment as people who are drinking and driving or drinking and boating,” Coopwood says.
6. Go to professionally run city or neighborhood firework displays and stay in the designated area away from the fireworks.
More Fourth of July safety tips
1. Stay hydrated. No, alcohol doesn’t count as hydration. It will be hot with an expected high of 95.
2. Be careful when lighting a barbecue. Don’t stand over the barbecue when lighting it. Use a long match or long lighter, and keep hair pulled back and avoid loose-fitting shirts. Usually when it comes to barbecue burns, Coopwood sees people who have tried to augment the barbecue grill by throwing something like gasoline on the coals. It flares up when they light it, and their shirt catches fire, burning their arm or chest.
3. Don’t drink and drive or drink and boat.