Next week is the 4th of July, and with America’s birthday come the firecrackers and fireworks that celebrate it. There’s no denying that fireworks are beautiful, exciting and fun to watch and use. But as marvelous as fireworks can be, they also pose a serious danger to your children.
On average, fireworks and firecrackers injure 230 people every year severely enough that they must be treated in the emergency room, and around 10 people die. Burns represent nearly 70 percent of all injuries, with the most affected body parts being the following:
- Hands and fingers – 33%
- Heads, faces and ears – 28%
- Legs – 18%
- Trunks and other – 12%
- Eyes – 9%
- Arms – 8%
Men and boys comprise nearly three quarters of all fireworks victims, and the fireworks that injure them most often are the ones they light themselves, particularly the following:
- Exploding firecrackers
- Bottle rockets
- Novelty devices
- Roman candles
- Reloadable shells
The number one fireworks safety rule is that you or another responsible adult must always light your young child’s fireworks. The number two rule is that despite their continued popularity among little kids, beware of sparklers. They are very dangerous. In fact, they cause about 20 percent of all firework-related injuries since they can burn at up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit – as hot as a blowtorch.
The best way to protect your little one from a sparkler burn is to use bamboo rather than metal sparklers. They don’t heat up as much. Another good tip is to insert the sparkler handle into an upside down Styrofoam cup so it fits over your child’s hand while (s)he’s holding it.
Rule number one, i.e., that only adults light fireworks, applies to your older kids just as much as to your preschoolers. Even a punk, although not nearly as dangerous as an open flame, is hot enough to burn your child if its smoldering tip comes into contact with any part of his or her body.
Kid-friendly fireworks appropriate for older kids are the non-flying kinds including the following:
- Cone fountains
- Ground-bloom flowers
- Spinners and other novelty fireworks
Assuming such things are legal in your community, reserve the shells, Roman candles, bottle rockets and other aerial fireworks for your teenagers. Shoot them in as open an area as possible and be sure your kids aim them away from your home and those of your neighbors. Remind them never to inspect or relight “duds” that fail to ignite. Late-exploding firecrackers severely injure older kids every year when they go off in the young person’s hand, face or penetrate his or her bent-over body. Make sure to wait 10-15 minutes before picking up the “dud” and immediately placing it in a bucket of water.
The 4th of July should be the most enjoyable holiday of any summer. Therefore, one final fireworks safety tip: if kids and teenagers are going to do fireworks after your cookout, barbecue, or backyard party, limit your alcohol consumption during the earlier part of your festivities. You need to be absolutely sober when you provide the adult supervision that fireworks require.
If you or your child is injured by someone else’s negligence this 4th of July, please call Richard A. Dubi toll-free at 833-FOR-DUBI (833-367-3824).