Published onHealth Tip of the Week
Fireworks are a big part of America’s summer celebrations. But for thousands of people every year, the thrill of using fireworks at home is offset by pain and lasting damage from injuries and property loss caused by them.
Children are at special risk of injury from fireworks, and account for more than a third of emergency room visits for fireworks-related injuries. Children between the ages of 5 and 9 are more than twice as likely as people in other age groups to be injured by fireworks.
“If you want to experience the spectacle of fireworks with your family, attend a public fireworks display,” says Gina Duchossois, an injury prevention expert and Chair of the Safe Kids Southeastern Pennsylvania coalition at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). “Even if fireworks are legal to purchase and use in your community, they are not safe around children.”
Here's important data to consider: There were 11,500 fireworks injuries treated in emergency rooms in 2021, and 74% of the injuries occurred in the weeks before or after the July Fourth holiday. A new report by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) finds a significant upward trend in fireworks-related injuries. Between 2006 and 2021, injuries with fireworks climbed 25% in the U.S., according to CPSC estimates.
The risk of burns from sparklers
“Some people treat sparklers much too casually,” says Duchossois. “They allow children to play with them as if they were toys. But sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit — hot enough to melt some metals. The sparks can cause burns and eye injuries, and touching a lit sparkler to skin can result in a serious burn.”
There were an estimated 1,100 emergency department-treated injuries associated with sparklers in 2021. Among the casualties listed in the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s 2021 Fireworks Annual Report was an 8-year-old male who was fatally injured by an illegal firework.
If you think your older children are mature enough to use sparklers safely, only let them do so under close adult supervision. Do not allow any running or horseplay while they are using sparklers.
Basic fireworks safety
If you do choose to use fireworks at home, keep children well away from them and follow these basic safety practices:
- Know what types of fireworks are legal in your community before buying or using them.
- Have a bucket of water or garden hose on hand in case of a fire or other accident when using any fireworks, including sparklers.
- Light fireworks one at a time, on a dry, flat surface, and move back quickly to a safe distance.
- Never place any part of your body over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse.
- Never try to relight or pick up fireworks that have not gone off as expected.
- Never set off fireworks in glass or metal containers.
- Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
- After fireworks have ignited, douse them with water before putting them in the trash.
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