With warm weather and the summer season in full swing, it’s time for the 4th of July festivities—especially fireworks! Before you begin your patriotic celebrations, make sure you learn about fireworks safety.
“Fireworks can be extremely dangerous if not used safely and appropriately,” says Steven Gamburg, MD, FACEP, chair, Department of Emergency Medicine, Main Line Health. “Parents need to be especially vigilant in supervising their children. Each year around this time, we see many burn injuries—most often with children and teens—from improper fireworks usage. It’s important to follow proper precautions to avoid serious injuries and burns.”
In 2013, fireworks were involved in an estimated 11,400 injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments, according to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC). Sixty-five percent of those injuries occurred from June 21–July 21 (during most summer/July 4th celebrations). Children younger than 15 years of age accounted for approximately 40 percent of the estimated 2013 injuries, and more than half of the estimated emergency department–treated, fireworks-related injuries were to individuals younger than 20 years of age.
Follow these safety tips when using fireworks (CPSC, 2014):
- Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks, even sparklers.
- Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents may not realize that young children can also suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees—hot enough to melt some metals.
- Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
- Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
- Light fireworks one at a time, then move away quickly.
- Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
- Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.
All fireworks can be dangerous, including sparklers. Because of the risk, families are encouraged to attend a public fireworks display instead. Enjoy yourself and leave it to the professionals to make the celebration a safe and relaxing event for all.