The Fourth of July is a time for celebration across the country, and here in Rhode Island fireworks are a crowd favorite each year. While fireworks can be fun to watch, they also pose danger for those setting them off and those around them. Doctors at Hasbro Children's Hospital are urging families to be cautious and prevent avoidable injuries during the festivities this July.
According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, fireworks were involved in nearly 9,600 injuries treated in emergency departments nationally in 2011. Twenty-six percent of those injuries were to children younger than 15, and 36 percent were individuals younger than 20.
"Don't ever let kids play with fireworks or sparklers," said Dina Morrissey, M.D., M.P.H., program coordinator for the Injury Prevention Center at Hasbro Children's Hospital and the Safe Kids Rhode Island coordinator. "The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to watch them at a community event where professionals handle them. Adults should never use fireworks when children are present."
The United States Fire Administration warns that children should never play with fireworks or sparklers. Sparklers can reach 2,000° Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to melt some types of metal. Children should never be allowed to pick up pieces of fireworks after an event. Some may still be ignited and can explode at any time.
Fireworks, including sparklers and flares, may cause serious burns as well as blast injuries that can permanently impair vision and hearing. "Teach your children how to call 911 in an emergency. Also teach them what to do if their clothing catches on fire - 'stop, drop and roll,'" said Morrissey.
The Injury Prevention Center offers the following tips for fireworks safety:
- Read all warnings and follow the instructions on fireworks' packages.
- Stay away from fireworks that aren't clearly labeled with the name of the item, the manufacturer's name and instructions for proper use.
- Make sure there is a responsible adult present when lighting fireworks.
- If you've been drinking alcohol, don't use fireworks.
- Don't hold sparklers. Instead, put them in the ground.
- Never carry fireworks in your pocket.
- Don't put any type of fireworks or flammables near children. Sparklers can get as hot as 2,000 degrees.
- Be sure other people and pets are out of range before lighting fireworks.
- Only light fireworks in a cool place, on a smooth, flat surface away from buildings, dry leaves and flammable materials.
- Never re-light fireworks that have not fully functioned.
- Never light fireworks that look defective.
- Keep a bucket of water handy, and soak used fireworks for at least 10 minutes after igniting.
- Wear safety goggles when handling pyrotechnics.
- Never attempt to make your own fireworks and do not purchase or use any kits sold for making fireworks.
"Prevention is the best way to treat firework-related burn injuries. Good sense and preparation will drastically reduce this type of preventable burn," said David Harrington, M.D., director of the Rhode Island Burn Center at Rhode Island Hospital."
For more information about fireworks safety and burn prevention, please visit http://www.rhodeislandhospital.org/fireworks.html or www.safekids.org.
The Injury Prevention Center at Rhode Island Hospital and Safe Kids Rhode Island work to prevent unintentional childhood injury, the leading cause of death and disability to children ages 1 to 14. Safe Kids Rhode Island is a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations dedicated to preventing unintentional injury.