Fireworks Safety Keeps Celebrations Injury Free

Little girl holding sparkler smiling
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Celebrations of outdoor cookouts, parades, and fireworks have become a family tradition in the summer. But, fireworks can turn into a unplanned trip to the emergency room or at least a painful memory when children and adults are injured.

Even the more seemingly safe fireworks, such as "sparklers," have caused severe burns and eye injuries with children. To help consumers use fireworks more safely, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission offers these safety tips and recommendations:

  • Young children should not be allowed to play with fireworks under any circumstances. Sparklers, often mistakenly considered a safe firework for young children, burn at very high temperatures and can easily ignite clothing. The sparks that are emitted can easily cause burns to hands and exposed skin. Young children cannot understand the danger involved and often will not act appropriately in case of an emergency.
  • Older children should only be permitted to handle fireworks under close adult supervision. Do not allow any running or horseplay, and parents should review safety procedures before allowing an older child near any fireworks.
  • Observe local laws concerning use of fireworks. Ignorance of fire bans due to droughts or permanent restrictions is no excuse. Most local media provide thorough coverage of what is allowed and what isn't each year prior to traditional fireworks events.
  • Light fireworks outdoors in a clear area away from houses, dry leaves or grass, and flammable materials. Each year, tragedies occur where fireworks land on a rooftop or open field, and then the fires quickly spread beyond anyone's expectations...and unfortunately, any control.
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby for emergencies and to douse fireworks that do not properly ignite.
  • Some fireworks that seem to be duds may later light up and at least fizzle, creating dangerous situations for those participants who aren't aware of their power and possible ignition later.
  • Do not attempt to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them with water and throw them away.
  • Be sure people are out of range before lighting fireworks. Accidents can easily happen with fireworks that aren't aimed in the right direction or ignite prematurely.
  • Store fireworks in a dry, cool place. Check instructions for special storage directions.
  • Never have any portion of your body directly over a firework while lighting. Be sure to wear protective eye-wear. An errant ember could cause permanent eye damage or, in extreme cases, blindness.
  • Don't experiment with homemade fireworks. Enough said here, right?
  • Be sure your state even allows consumer fireworks. States that ban all consumer fireworks include: Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. Another seven states only allow sparklers or novelties.

In the end, child advocates recommend that it is best to leave the fireworks displays to the pros. The enjoyment can be greater, the cost less, and the experience a safe one.

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