Take Caution When Using Fireworks at Home
With so many city fireworks displays being cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, families may turn to using personal fireworks to light up the night on the Fourth of July. But St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital reminds everyone to use caution during these socially distant Independence Day festivities.
“Fireworks, including sparklers and flares, can cause serious burns as well as blast injuries that can permanently impair vision and hearing,” said Michelle Sterling, St. Joseph’s Children’s Wellness and Safety expert.
Each year, mostly within a few weeks of the Fourth of July, nearly 3,000 children ages 15 and younger are treated in emergency departments nationwide 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.
Sterling says that while sparklers are seen by some parents as the safer choice, the tip of a sparkler can heat up to as high as 1,200°F, which is hot enough to cause third degree burns. She suggests letting young children use glow sticks instead. “They can be just as fun, but they don’t burn at a temperature hot enough to melt glass.”
If you plan to use fireworks at home, here are some precautions to follow:
- 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.
- Use glow sticks as substitute for sparklers.
- 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.
As in any activity involving hazardous equipment, Sterling said, 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.