Then-13-year-old Javonte McNair was riding his bike in July 2015 when he discovered an onion bomb, a highly-explosive firework that is sold legally in Florida. It exploded in his hand, severing his right hand and blasting him in the face.
The firework shot hot debris into his eye, which caused severe damage. The accident was one of the more than 10,000 firework-related injuries that occur every year.
More fires are reported on Independence Day than any other day of the year, according to the National Fire Protection Association, so with Fourth of July celebrations looming, first responders and health officials are urging community members to use common sense and leave firework shows to professionals.
“People love to see fireworks,” Mike Jachles, a Broward Sheriff’s Fire Rescue spokesman, said. “The problem is when things go wrong, they go very wrong very fast.”
The American Academy of Ophthalmology issued a public warning explaining that fireworks shouldn’t be used at home and noted the safest way to view fireworks is to attend a professional show. In Florida, there are few legal consumer fireworks.
Sparklers are legal but can still cause serious burns. Celebratory gunfire is against the law.
"Fireworks can be extremely dangerous,” Brian C. Tse, M.D., Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, said in a statement. "Each year hundreds of people end up with severe eye injuries and burns from fireworks, and many are bystanders and children. Even sparklers can permanently damage the eye.”
For individuals planning to attend a public fireworks show, officials suggest that it’s best to view the display from at least 500 feet away, respect all safety barriers and not touch unexploded fireworks.
If you plan to use fireworks in a state where consumer fireworks are legal, don’t let children play with fireworks or sparklers, keep a pail of water nearby in case of fire or flames, don’t handle a malfunctioning firework and ensure that everyone handling fireworks and close bystanders are wearing protective eye wear.
If you get hurt from fireworks, seek medical attention immediately.