Fireworks may have been invented by the ancient Chinese (during the Tang Dynasty to be exact) but it is we Americans who have made them part of our national identity. Bottle rockets, firecrackers, Roman candles, and of course, those glorious aerial displays are the colorful and explosive icons of our Independence Day celebrations.
But with the festivities comes the dangers: the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that there are an average of 230 fireworks-related injuries near and on the 4th of July. So before you and your family set match to sparkler, get educated on fireworks safety.
Keep children away from fireworks, except the aerial blasts they can watch from a safe distance. Firecrackers, bottle rockets and other hand-held explosives are just too unpredictable. And although sparklers may seem safe, they can reach a temperature of 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit - hot enough to melt gold!
Buy your fireworks from a reputable dealer, and be sure they are legal (the legal ones have a label with the manufacturer's name and directions). Store them in a cool dry space, and have a bucket of water nearby when you set them off.
Don't try to make your own fireworks. Seriously, find another hobby! Of all the products carefully regulated by federal laws, explosive devices should be the last things you want to homebrew.
Don't hold your fireworks as you light them. Don't throw them at someone once you have lit them. This is Real Life, not Call of Duty on the Xbox. Your local Army recruiting station will be delighted to meet with you and place you on a path to getting a proper hand grenade education, but until then, place fireworks on the ground, light them, and run away.
Use goggles. 19 percent of all fireworks injuries are to the eye.
Fireworks are unpredictable. There is no denying that is part of their charm, but they are known to backfire or shoot off in the wrong direction. For this reason, make sure the path all around you is clear before you light anything, not just the direction you expect the firework to travel. And not just people: keep a wide, safe zone between your fireworks and any homes or bushes or flammable substances. More fires are reported in the U.S. on the 4th of July than on any other day of the year, and fireworks account for more than half of those.
Beware of "duds." Do not try to re-light a firework that did not go off the first time, and steer children clear of pieces of fireworks that may litter the ground after an event - these might still have a little bit of life left in them.
If you follow all these tips and still manage to get injured by fireworks, see a doctor immediately. You won't be alone.
Dr. Samadi is a board-certified urologic oncologist trained in open and traditional and laparoscopic surgery and is an expert in robotic prostate surgery. He is chairman of urology, chief of robotic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital and professor of urology at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine. He is a medical correspondent for the Fox News Channel's Medical A-Team Learn more at roboticoncology.com. Visit Dr. Samadi's blog at http://samadimd.com/ Follow Dr. Samadi on Twitter, Instagram, Pintrest and Facebook.