With most, if not all community Fourth of July fireworks celebrations being canceled this year due to the COVID 19 pandemic, many families will be creating their own backyard fireworks displays.
With so many doing their own thing it is critically important to recognize the potential risks that handling fireworks present.
Fireworks Can Be Dangerous
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s 2018 Fireworks Annual Report disclosed a number of fire and injury facts attributable to fireworks.
- Fireworks started an estimated 19,500 fires in 2018, including 1,900 structure fires, 500 vehicle fires, and 17,100 outside and other fires. These fires caused five deaths, 46 civilian injuries, and $105 million in direct property damage.
- In 2018, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 9,100 people for fireworks related injuries; half of those injuries were to the extremities and 34% were to the eye or other parts of the head. Children younger than 15 years of age accounted for more than one-third (36%) of the estimated 2018 injuries.
Fireworks Safety Tips
Fireworks can cause serious burns and eye injuries. Historically the risk of fireworks injury is highest for young people ages 15-24, followed by children under 10. To minimize the potential for injury follow these safety tips when using fireworks.
- Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
- Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.
- Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don’t realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt some metals.
- Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
- Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
- Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
- 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 back quickly.
- Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
- After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
- Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.
What to do if an Injury Happens
If a child is injured by fireworks, immediately go to a doctor or hospital.
If an eye injury happens:
- Don’t let your child touch or rub it, as this may cause even more damage.
- Don’t flush the eye out with water or try to put any ointment on it.
- Cut out the bottom of a paper cup, place it around the eye, and get medical care right away — your child’s eyesight may depend on it.
If your child is burned:
- Remove clothing from the burned area.
- Call your doctor immediately.
Important Time with Family
One of the silver linings of this pandemic is the time it has given us to be with our families. As we celebrate our nation’s founding, let’s be vigilant in how we celebrate and make sure our children stay safe.