Fireworks and Kids – Not a Good Combination

This past 4th of July weekend, many families and friends gathered together to celebrate Independence Day with parades, cookouts, and, of course, fireworks. While fireworks are a wonderful spectacle, they also pose significant dangers to users, especially children. Unfortunately, these dangers do not end once a major holiday has passed, as many families have leftover fireworks that can be accessed throughout the year.

Every year, thousands of people have to undergo medical treatment for injuries resulting from fireworks. Sadly, most of these injuries affect children and teens. In 2012 alone, there were a reported 8,700 people who sought treatment in ERs across the U.S. because of injuries involving fireworks.

Despite the risks, it is possible to be safe and enjoy fireworks year round. Both the National Council on Fireworks Safety and the Consumer Products Safety Commission have offered some tips to keep people, especially children, safe around fireworks. Here are some of the tips they suggest.

  • Children should be supervised by adults at all times while around fireworks. Adults, not children, should ignite fireworks. Even small fireworks, like sparklers, have the potential to cause injuries to children. While it may seem as though sparklers are a safer option for children, keep in mind that the fire inside sparklers reaches temperatures hot enough to cause serious burns. Teenagers playing with fireworks should also be supervised by parents.
  • Always read the caution labels before igniting fireworks. The instructions included on fireworks packages are meant to keep people safe, but they alone are not enough. Those playing with fireworks should be sure to wear safety glasses in order to protect their eyes from life-altering injuries. In addition, fireworks should only be lit on hard, flat surfaces and never in buckets made of metal or glass.
  • Fireworks are not toys and should never be pointed at another person while lit. To ensure your safety, do not light multiple fireworks at one time. Be sure to move quickly away from fireworks once they are lit. While lighting the firework, do not put any part of your body near the fuse. Keeping a bucket of water nearby can be useful for defusing “duds” and disposing of used fireworks. Water should always be readily available while using fireworks.
  • Wait until fireworks have been extinguished and are no longer hot before picking them up. “Dud” fireworks should not be lit again. If you have a “dud” firework, wait at least twenty minutes and then place it in water to ensure it is defused. Once the fireworks display is over, place any used fireworks in water before you dispose of them. All fireworks should be put in outside garbage cans made of fire resistant material. Do not place used fireworks near any flammable substances.

While fireworks are dangerous, they can easily be enjoyed safely with a little preparation and common sense. Anytime you choose to enjoy fireworks with family members and friends, don’t forget to take a few steps to keep your family safe.

Sources:
Fireworks, http://www.nfpa.org/safety-information/for-consumers/holidays/fireworks; National Council on Fireworks Safety Urges Consumers to Practice Safe and Responsible Use of Consumer Fireworks During Their Fourth of July Festivities, http://fireworkssafety.org/?p=489; Fireworks Information Center, http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Safety-Education/Safety-Education-Centers/Fireworks/