Officials stress fireworks safety ahead of Fourth of July weekend

Updated: Jul. 1, 2020 at 7:55 AM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Due to safety concerns surrounding COVID-19, many fireworks shows across the Grand Strand were cancelled. As a result, many folks may be planning to set off their own to celebrate the holiday weekend, which could lead to a different set of dangers.

A Grand Strand Health official said fireworks as small as a sparkler can still cause third-degree burns, so anyone planning to light them off this weekend needs to keep in mind the dangers that can come with it.

Aaron Worthley, Grand Strand Health trauma performance improvement coordinator, said there are a few simple steps for you to stay safe:

  • Keep a safe distance from the fireworks and use a longer type of lighter to set them off
  • Back away at least 50-feet from the fireworks once lit

Worthley said some of his biggest pieces of advice are to have adult supervision, buy legal fireworks, and don’t light fireworks under the influence.

“Firework-related injuries can have lifelong effects,” Worthley said. “I mean, losing fingers, appendages, burns, you can have lifelong ramifications from simple and careless mistakes.”

Even with hospitals already busy right now due to COVID-19, Worthley said the hospital is always prepared for firework-related injuries this time of year.

Not only it is important to consider the dangers of at-home fireworks, but also consider those with post-traumatic stress disorder who can be triggered with harmful memories by the loud noises from fireworks.

Christopher Hart was a captain in the United States Army and he experienced first-hand the triggering effect of fireworks.

Hart said for many veterans it brings them back to war, the loud boom similar to the sound of an explosion.

Over the years, many veterans have received group therapy and Hart was one of them.

Hart prepares himself for days like Independence Day. He trains his mind to see the fireworks as a form of celebration rather than something putting him in danger.

If you’re planning to set off fireworks from home, Hart said it’s important to think about those around you.

“Here in Myrtle Beach we have a large veteran community, everything from Korean War veterans, Vietnam veterans, Gulf War, Afghanistan, Iraq, so there’s a variation of veterans in our community, especially here in the Market Common community. So just be aware, be respectful, understand that these are people that fought for our freedoms in combat,” Hart said.

Hart also added if you have veterans in your community, suggest letting them know you are setting off fireworks ahead of time.

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