Fireworks Safety Tips

Fireworks are a fantastic sight, and a part of many families’ summer celebrations. But the reality is that they are involved in a significant number of injuries to children each year.

In fact, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that of the 10,500 fireworks injuries treated in U.S. emergency departments in 2014, 35% of them happened to children younger than 15 years of age.

Even sparklers, which may seem child friendly, are actually quite dangerous – the tip of a sparkler can reach temperatures of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, capable of producing a third-degree burn (and even melt gold!). Glow sticks are a much safer option.

While the safest way to enjoy fireworks is by watching the outdoor displays put on by professionals, if you plan to set off at-home fireworks this year, please take the following precautions from Dr. Pomerantz, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:

Fireworks Safety Tips

General Safety Tips

  • Buy from reliable sellers only
  • Don’t experiment or make your own fireworks
  • Supervise teenagers
  • Don’t allow children to play with fireworks – even sparklers
  • Contact local police department to determine if fireworks are legal in your neighborhood
  • Don’t buy fireworks in brown paper; could indicate they’re for professionals
  • Don’t carry fireworks in your pocket; the friction could set them off
  • Keep water handy (garden hose and bucket) in case of malfunction or a fire

During Setup

  • Make all preparations outside
  • Make sure bystanders are out of range before lighting
  • Read and follow warnings and label instructions
  • Wear eye protection
  • Light fireworks on a smooth, flat surface away from the house
  • Light fireworks away from anything that can catch fire, like leaves and grass
  • Use match sticks to light them (not lighters or cigarettes)
  • Don’t place your body over the fireworks when lighting
  • Don’t light in a glass or metal container
  • Don’t throw or point fireworks at other people, animals or buildings

For Disposal

  • Wait 15-20 minutes, soak fireworks in water, then throw in a trashcan
  • Never relight dud fireworks that have not fully functioned
  • Do not allow children to pick up fireworks afterwards; they may still be active

IF AN INJURY DOES HAPPEN

Following the above safety precautions can help prevent injuries to the person lighting the fireworks and any bystanders.  If an accident does happen, Dr. Pomerantz suggests a few guidelines for judging whether an injury needs at-home treatment or professional medical help.  For injuries that involve the eyes, head, limbs, or smoke inhalation, seek immediate medical attention.

Minor burns can be treated at home by:

  1. Removing all clothing that is burned to prevent further damage to the skin
  2. Soaking a towel in cool water and applying directly to the affected area (or soak the skin in cool water)
  3. Avoiding ice; it can damage the skin further
  4. Unroofing large blisters to prevent infection
  5. Cleaning the wound with soap and water
  6. Applying moisturizer to superficial burns
  7. Applying triple antibiotic ointment for burns with blisters or deeper, followed by non-adhesive sterile dressing or bandage
  8. Controlling pain with ibuprofen or acetaminophen
Cincinnati Children's Social Media Team

About the Author: Cincinnati Children's Social Media Team

Kate and Rachel (pictured here L-R) write about cool things happening in the medical center that we hope you'll find as interesting as we did!

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