Growing up, I could hardly wait for it to get dark on July 4th. As soon as it was dark enough, my older brothers had the fireworks and sparklers ready to go. My dad’s rules included: no touching fireworks until you are in middle school and keep a bucket of water nearby. My own son, several summers in a row, entertained his grandmother and her neighbors with fireworks and boxes and boxes of sparklers. Looking back, I know we overlooked one important factor: safety.
According to the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), three deaths and nearly 9,000 emergency rooms resulted from treating fireworks related injuries last year. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reported that of the thousands injured each year, most are children or teens. In fact, the rate of injury due to fireworks is twice as high for kids aged 10 to14 as it is for the rest of the population. The injuries reported are serious: eye abrasions and third degree burns.
My plan this year is to enjoy a good professional fireworks show put on by our community. However, if backyard fireworks are part of a festive and patriotic July 4th celebration for your family, please remember these safety tips:
• Make sure fireworks are legal in your state
• Children should hold lighted sparklers down and away from their face, clothes, and hair. The CPSC says they can get hot enough to melt some metals!
• Kids should not try to make their own fireworks
• Fireworks are meant for outside
• Always keep a bucket of water or a hose handy and soak all spent fireworks in water before throwing them in the trash. NFPA reported that more fires are reported on July 4 than any other day of the year
• Point away from homes and others when lighting
• Never allow children to hold fireworks in their hands when lighting
• Discourage a child from leaning directly over the fireworks when lighting them
• Don’t allow your child to carry fireworks in a pocket
• Never allow your child to relight a dud
The NFPA urged families to leave the fireworks displays to the professionals. Whatever you decide, enjoy the fireworks but keep your family safe.
Reviewed June 30, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Alison Stanton