Fireworks SafetyJuly 3, 2014
By Nikki Cecala
There are many ways to celebrate Independence Day but fireworks are the notorious winner. Fireworks are a big part of the celebration and from a distance they can be very beautiful. But up close, they can be extremely dangerous. There are almost 9,000 fireworks victims treated in U.S. hospitals each year. 44 percent of those injured are children under 20 years old.
- The smallest fireworks cause the most injuries. From firecrackers to bottle rockets, these small fireworks can fly in any direction before exploding. Did you know that sparkers burn at 1,800° F, which can melt silver? For preschool-aged children, sparklers cause the most injuries of all fireworks.
- The most frequently injured body parts are the hands and fingers, followed by the head, face, ears, and eyes.
- Boys are twice as likely as girls to be injured by fireworks.
The only way to prevent a firework injury is to not play with or be near any fireworks. Regardless of their ages, do not give children access to standard fireworks. Novelty fireworks such as smoke bombs, snakes, and party poppers are safer for children but should still be supervised by an adult.
Instead, I recommend making homemade noisemakers to make your own ruckus in the celebration. Younger children are mostly attracted to firework noises, so these noisemakers are an easy and safe way for them to participate. Put uncooked rice in an empty plastic bottle, tightening the cap, and shake. Or give them a box of macaroni and cheese that you haven’t opened yet. You would be surprised how fun shaking these bottles and boxes can be for a young child.
The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public fireworks show put on by professionals. If someone is setting fireworks off at home or if you are attending a party where someone has fireworks, they should follow these safety rules:
- Do not let small children light fireworks.
- Keep water buckets near as a precaution and have a fire extinguisher available.
- Wear eye protection when lighting fireworks and light one firework at a time.
- Do not relight a dud, or a firework that doesn’t explode. After waiting at least 15 minutes, move the dud into a water bucket to let it soak. Throw it out the next day.
- Do not throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, buildings, or flammable materials.
- Leave any area immediately if you do not feel safe.
Sometimes the best seat in the house is your backyard or front porch. Use your best judgment on the location for viewing fireworks. And remember, have fun!