SCDHEC urges firework, COVID safety this weekend

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During a time as celebratory as Fourth of July weekend, it’s easy to get lost in the excitement and forget to use appropriate safety measures. That’s why the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is urging residents to stay safe when using fireworks this upcoming weekend.

Fireworks start more than 19,500 fires each year, including 1,300 structure fires and 300 vehicle fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). In addition, the organization says burns account for 44 percent of injuries treated in emergency rooms in the month surrounding July 4. Children are largely affected, with 36 percent of victims being under the age of 15.

“Too often, the usage of fireworks is not taken as seriously as it should be,” said Dr. Virginie Daguise, Bureau Director of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention. “The fact is, they can cause severe injuries and burns, and some cases are even fatal. We want people to have fun during the Fourth of July weekend, but we also want them to be careful. That means following safety guidelines on the firework labels, paying attention to your surroundings, and keeping others at a safe distance.”

Tips for the safe use of fireworks include:

Spectators should keep a safe distance from the person lighting the fireworks, and the person lighting should wear safety glasses. Always move to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
Point fireworks away from homes, and keep away from brush, leaves and other flammable substances.
Do not allow young children to play with, or ignite, fireworks, including sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit—hot enough to melt some metals.
Never try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them with water and throw them away.
Soak all fireworks in a bucket of water before throwing them in the trash because they may still be ignited.
The safest approach is to leave fireworks to the professionals. Many communities and organizations across South Carolina are having free fireworks shows this holiday weekend.

For more tips, visit DHEC’s fireworks safety page or the NFPA webpage.

In addition to practicing firework safety, DHEC is also encouraging South Carolinians to maintain COVID-19 safety measures over the weekend. The pandemic is ongoing and disease transmission can easily occur in group settings where individuals are not fully vaccinated. Unvaccinated individuals should wear masks in public and physically distance from others. The CDC considers attending a crowded, outdoor event one of the least safe activities for unvaccinated individuals. However, for those who are fully vaccinated, this type of gathering is considered safe.

Those who have not yet been vaccinated are encouraged to do so as soon as possible. Safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines are available for those ages 12 and older.

For more information, visit DHEC’s vaccination page, and the agency’s locator page to find a nearby vaccination site.