Don’t let your children play with fireworks of any kind, advises the American Academy of Pediatrics. Thousands are needlessly injured every year. Take them to a professional fireworks display instead.
The AAP, the national association of children’s doctors, would like to see every state ban all private use of fireworks.
Supervision by an adult does not ensure safety, the AAP said. About half of the injuries to children happened when an adult was on hand.
Last year, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said, 8,500 people were injured by fireworks. Some were blinded, and 16 died.
A spokesman for the AAP, Gary A. Smith, M.D., calls Fourth of July fireworks injuries “our annual national disaster. … We are going to see thousands of people treated in hospital emergency departments due to fireworks-related injuries.” He is a pediatric emergency room specialist at Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
Even sparklers are dangerous, the AAP said. It wants to ban them, along with firecrackers, rockets, roman candles, smoke bombs and fire fountains.
“I think it’s sort of a popular myth that sparklers are benign and not hazardous,” said Ken Giles, a spokesman for the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). “Sparklers can get to a couple of thousand degrees Fahrenheit in temperature, and that is hot enough to ignite clothing or cause severe burns.”
Burns are the most popular injuries from fireworks, to adults as well as children. Emergency room statistics show that your hands are the most likely place you could be hurt, followed by your head, face and eyes.
Firecrackers cause the most injuries, but “bottle rockets” are also very dangerous. They can take off in unexpected directions, and travel at such high velocity that it’s not possible to dodge them.
Besides personal injuries, fireworks take a heavy toll on property. The National Fire Protection Agency reports that in 1997 fire departments fought 20,100 fires caused by fireworks. Property damage from them totaled an estimated $22.7 million.
The CPSC issued these safety tips:
Only light fireworks on a flat, smooth surface, away from flammable materials and house.
Be sure other people are out of range.
Read and follow all warnings on the packages.
Keep a hose or bucket of water nearby.
The person who sets off the fireworks should wear protective goggles, and so should anyone else nearby.
Never let children ignite or play with fireworks.
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