Fireworks safety for the family

cartoon family watching fireworks

It's almost the holiday weekend! Can’t you just smell the burgers on the grill? See the fireflies flitting about in the backyard? And soon we’ll delight in the oohs and aahs that accompany the annual Fourth of July fireworks displays. Sadly, though, fireworks are a source of a lot of injuries. Last year, Norton Healthcare's facilities treated hundreds of holiday-related injuries on and around July 4th. Many of these injuries involved the use of fireworks- burns, cuts, falls, and being struck by objects.

Often considered one of the safest fireworks, sparklers can reach 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. They join firecrackers and rockets in causing the bulk of emergency room-treated injuries. These injuries most commonly involve the hands, fingers, eyes and head and can sometimes result in amputations, blindness or even death.

 “All fireworks injuries can be avoided,” said Sharon Rengers, R.N., Children’s Hospital Foundation Office of Child Advocacy of Kosair Children’s Hospital. “Just don’t use them.

Most fireworks injuries are caused by firecrackers, bottle rockets and sparklers, which are legal in many states. Fireworks banned by federal law in all states include cherry bombs, silver salutes, M-80s and M-100s. “The best advice is to leave fireworks to the professionals,” Rengers said. “The safest way to enjoy fireworks is at a community-sanctioned, licensed event.”  
“Fireworks can cause devastating injuries involving the hands, eyes and head. And these injuries can result in amputation, blindness and even death. However, the majority of injuries involve burns, which are one of the most painful types of injuries.”        

Many parents overestimate their children’s ability to handle fireworks, creating a dangerous environment for everyone involved. Before your family celebrates, follow fireworks safety laws in your area and be sure everyone knows these safety tips:

  • Only adults should handle fireworks. Tell children to immediately leave the area if their friends are using fireworks.
  • Discuss safety procedures with your children. Teach children to “stop, drop and roll” if their clothes catch fire. Make sure they know how to call 911. Show them how to put out fireworks with water or a fire extinguisher.
  • Read labels and carefully follow directions. All fireworks carry a warning label describing necessary safety precautions.
  • Never use fireworks indoors.
  • Be sure spectators are out of range before lighting fireworks.
  • Never aim or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Never place your face or any other body part over fireworks.
  • Never try to reignite fireworks that malfunction.
  • Never carry fireworks in your pocket.
  • Light fireworks only on a smooth, flat surface away from the house, dry leaves and flammable materials.

    Rengers also says that even seemingly innocent fireworks, such as sparklers, can be dangerous. For children under age 10, sparklers are the most frequent cause of fireworks injury. Fascinated by the bright sparks, children wrap their hands around the stick that may be as hot as 1,800 degrees.

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