One of my favorite memories as a child was staying up late to watch the 4th of July fireworks display. Now, as a father, I get to re-experience these memories through my children’s eyes. Unfortunately, as a pediatric emergency medicine physician, I also see the darker side of this American tradition.
Each year there are thousands of emergency department visits for fireworks related injuries in the United States. Almost all are due to private use (not public displays) and kids, especially between the ages of 10-14 years old, are commonly injured. The majority of injuries are burns to the hands and face and eye injuries; however, every year there are sadly several deaths due to fireworks.
There are no “safe” fireworks. To keep your family safe it is best to leave the display to the professionals. If you do personally use fireworks this summer, here are some important safety tips:
- Fireworks are not toys and kids should never play with fireworks. If you do give your child a sparkler, use only one at a time under direct adult supervision and keep them away from your child’s face, clothing and hair.
- Buy only legal fireworks and never make your own. Fireworks are illegal in many areas. Make sure you know the law.
- Always use fireworks outside and have a bucket of water or hose ready in case of an accident. Keep clear of homes, brush and flammable substances. Local fire departments respond to tens of thousands of fires caused by fireworks each year.
- Keep clear of others and yourself. Never hold lit fireworks or aim at another person.
- Use eye protection.
- Light only one at a time, and never relight a dud.
- Soak used fireworks in water before throwing away in the trash.
- If your child is injured by fireworks, seek immediate medical attention. If he or she is burned, remove any clothing in the area and rinse with cool water then call your doctor or go directly to the emergency department. If an eye injury occurs, go immediate to the emergency department.
Displays of fireworks during the summertime are magical. Remember, fireworks are not toys. Keep the above precautions in mind, and I hope your family has a spectacular and safe summer.
Photo credit: bayasaa