Celebrate Safety this Fourth of July

Each year, mostly within a few weeks of the Fourth of July, nearly 3,000 children ages 15 and under are treated in emergency departments for injuries resulting from fireworks. Children ages 5 to 9 are at the highest risk for fireworks-related injuries, and firecrackers and bottle rockets cause the most injuries to children in this age group. Children ages 4 and under are at the highest risk for sparkler-related injuries.

“Fireworks, including sparklers and flares, can cause serious burns as well as blast injuries that can permanently impair vision and hearing,” said Jaime Verberne, a child health and safety expert at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital.

Verberne adds that while sparklers are seen by some parents as the safer choice, the tip of a sparkler can heat up to as high as 1,800°F, which is hot enough to cause third degree burns.

In addition to teaching your children what to do if their clothing catches on fire — stop, drop and roll — and how to call 911 in an emergency, St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital recommend the following precautions for adults using fireworks:

  • Light fireworks only on smooth, flat surfaces, and aim them away from buildings, dry leaves, flammable materials and spectators
  • Do not try to relight fireworks that malfunction
  • Always have a bucket of water and/or a fire extinguisher nearby
  • Do not carry fireworks in your pocket or hold them close to your face
  • Never modify fireworks or use homemade fireworks
  • Keep a phone handy, and know first aid for burns. Also, keep a fire extinguisher handy and know how to use it.

Finally, as in any activity involving hazardous equipment, keep all children under active supervision — in sight and in reach at all times, with your undivided attention focused on them — when they're near fireworks. Verberne adds that the safest way to enjoy fireworks is to watch them at a community event where professionals handle them.

Editor’s Note: St. Joseph’s Children’s Advocates are available to discuss firework safety. Please call Amy Gall at (813) 870-4731 to schedule an interview.