Don't Forget Fireworks Safety This 4th!

I live in a county that allows the sale and use of fireworks. Every year, about two weeks before July 4th and New Years and about two weeks after, the neighborhood sounds like a battlefield. During this time I also hear the laughter of children in front and back yards up and down the block. Occasionally I hear a scream.

My first thought when my windows start to shake from the concussive sounds is I hope a child isn't hurt tonight while these families are playing with massive amounts of fireworks.

It may be legal in my county to shoot off fireworks, but it's illegal in many cities. And yet, you hear them anyway.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), analyzed data on non-occupational, fireworks-related deaths and injuries during calendar year 2012. There were 8,700 fireworks related injuries treated in emergency departments. 5,200 of the injuries happened between June22 and July 22.

Children younger than 15 years of age accounted for approximately 30 percent of the estimated 2012 injuries. Forty-six percent of the estimated emergency department-treated, fireworks-related injuries were to individuals younger than 20 years of age.

There were 6 non-occupational fireworks-related deaths, most were from participants either making or lighting homemade fireworks. Malfunctioning or illegal fireworks were responsible for the other deaths.

If it's legal to use fireworks in your area (or if you plan on using them anyway), please remember these safety tips from

  • Kids should never play with fireworks. Things like firecrackers, rockets, and sparklers are just too dangerous. If you give kids sparklers, make sure they keep them outside and away from the face, clothing, and hair. Sparklers can reach 1,800°F (982°C) — hot enough to melt gold.
  • Buy only legal fireworks (legal fireworks have a label with the manufacturer's name and directions; illegal ones are unlabeled), and store them in a cool, dry place. Illegal fireworks usually go by the names M-80, M100, blockbuster, or quarter-pounder. These explosives were banned in 1966, but still account for many fireworks injuries.
  • Never try to make your own fireworks.
  • Always use fireworks outside and have a bucket of water and a hose nearby in case of accidents.
  • Steer clear of others — fireworks have been known to backfire or shoot off in the wrong direction. Never throw or point fireworks at someone, even in jest.
  • Don't hold fireworks in your hand or have any part of your body over them while lighting. Wear some sort of eye protection, and avoid carrying fireworks in your pocket — the friction could set them off.
  • Point fireworks away from homes, and keep away from brush and leaves and flammable substances. The National Fire Protection Association estimates that local fire departments respond to more 50,000 fires caused by fireworks each year.
  • Light one firework at a time (not in glass or metal containers), and never relight a dud.
  • Don't allow kids to pick up pieces of fireworks after an event. Some may still be ignited and can explode at any time.
  • Soak all fireworks in a bucket of water before throwing them in the trashcan.
  • Don't forget about your pet. Animals have sensitive ears and can be extremely frightened or stressed on the Fourth of July. Keep pets indoors to reduce the risk that they'll run loose or get injured.

If your child is injured by fireworks get immediate medical attention. If an eye injury occurs, don't allow your child to touch or rub it, as this may cause even more damage. Also, don't flush the eye out with water or attempt to put any ointment on it. Instead, cut out the bottom of a paper cup, place it around the eye, and immediately seek medical attention — your child's eyesight may depend on it. If it's a burn, remove clothing from the burned area and run cool, not cold, water over the burn (do not use ice). Call your doctor immediately.

A lot of families have turned to the many city-sponsored fireworks displays along with other fun activities.  These kinds of events are really the safest place to enjoy fireworks this July 4th.

Sources: Steven Dowshen, MD,

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