Spectrum Health Regional Burn Center Shares Tips for a Safe Summer and Fourth

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., June 25, 2020 – With fireworks flying off store shelves, state campgrounds reopening and many backyard bonfires planned, the clinical team at the Spectrum Health Regional Burn Center is sharing information to help everyone stay safe this summer.

With COVID-19 concerns canceling most municipal fireworks events and many people gearing up for their own backyard shows and bonfires, experts are worried  there will be a spike in burn and explosion injuries.

In 2019, 21% of burn center patients requiring admission had what staff call summer-type injuries. That includes firework injuries, bonfire injuries, brush fire burns and injuries from gasoline fires, often when lighting bonfires. So far in 2020, that percentage stands at 18%.

“These types of burns are common every summer and I’m worried we’ll see more this year” says Amy Spencer, MD, medical director of the Spectrum Health Burn Center. “This year is different. We usually tell people to attend professional shows instead of using their own fireworks. But COVID-19 precautions have canceled most of them.”

Spencer explained, “According to sales reports, there will be a lot of fireworks parties this year. Fireworks are dangerous, and I’m worried there will be lots of inexperienced and careless users out there around the Fourth of July. . Not many people know that a sparkler burns at 1200 degrees. That’s five times hotter than boiling water and can melt glass.  People need to know that there are no safe fireworks.”

Many fireworks parties are accompanied by bonfires and with state parks opening, there will be a lot of people enjoying campfires – both can be dangerous, says Spencer. “Campfires can be enjoyable, but you have to be cautious and vigilant, especially with children around. You must use caution when lighting them and be aware that the firepit can contain very hot coals hidden by ash the next morning.”

First and Foremost: Consider a Fun Fourth Without Fireworks

  • Use glow sticks, they glow in the dark and are a safe alternative to a sparkler. Fun for all ages.
  • Loud and proud. Noise makers are sure to make a statement. They can be found at local party supply stores or make your own.
  • Outdoor movie night. Set up a screen and projector. Don’t forget the bug spray!
  • Red, white and blue silly string…fun for all ages.
  • Make a patriotic craft with the family.

Fireworks Dos and Don’ts


  • Consider safer alternatives such as glow sticks, confetti poppers or colored streamers.
  • Observe your local and state laws.
  • Have a designated, sober adult light all legal fireworks.
  • Light one firework at a time and move away quickly.
  • Keep children and other observers at a safe distance behind a protective barrier.
  • Store fireworks out of children’s reach.
  • Keep a bucket of water close for disposal of fireworks.


  • Allow children to use fireworks, including sparklers.
  • Attempt to alter, modify or re-light fireworks.
  • Point or throw lit fireworks at anyone.
  • Allow children to pick up the spent fireworks; some may still be active.
  • Ever hold lit fireworks in your hand.
  • Consume alcohol or drugs when lighting fireworks.
  • Forget you can be held legally and financially liable for injuries caused by using fireworks.

Burn First Aid:

  1. Cool the burn with COOL (not cold) water to stop the burning process.
  2. Remove all clothing and jewelry from the injured area.
  3. Cover the area with a dry clean sheet or loose bandages.
  4. Seek medical attention.

Spectrum Health System, a not-for-profit, integrated health system, is committed to improving the health and wellness of our communities. We live our mission every day with 31,000 compassionate professionals, 4,600 medical staff experts, 3,300 committed volunteers and a health plan serving 1 million members. Our talented physicians and caregivers are privileged to offer a full continuum of care and wellness services to our communities through 14 hospitals, including Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, 150 ambulatory sites and telehealth offerings. We pursue health care solutions for today and tomorrow that diversify our offerings. Locally-governed and based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, our health system provided $550 million in community benefit in calendar year 2019. Thanks to the generosity of our communities, we received $37 million in philanthropy to support research, academics, innovation and clinical care. Spectrum Health has been recognized as one of the nation’s 15 Top Health Systems by Truven Health Analytics®, part of IBM Watson HealthTM.

Bruce Rossman
Media Relations
Office: 616.391.3706
Mobile: 616.443.3242