Written by Jessica Kuhn, M.D. candidate,
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
Medically reviewed by Julie Belkowitz, M.D., M.P.H., Lyse Deus,
and Oneith Cadiz, M.D.
The aroma of my rectangular vanilla cream cake fills the room as I take it out of the oven. As the cake cools, I cream the butter and confectioners sugar preparing to smooth bright white icing over the cake's surface. Then, I arrange some chopped strawberries into straight red stripes and create stars with fragmented blueberries on the white backdrop.
It's time to celebrate the 4th of July.
Each fourth of July, my family has a party. We play games, swim in the pool, cookout, and enjoy fireworks. As I prepare for the festivities, my attention shifts to preventative and safety measures I can take to make sure my family enjoys the holiday without any unnecessary injuries.
Every year, the number of firework-related injuries soars around July. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 70 to 75% of all firework-related injuries occur around July. Most alarming, 40% of those injured are children under the age of 14. With the holiday quickly approaching, now is the perfect opportunity to explore safer ways to celebrate.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that families take some basic safety precautions:
Avoid purchasing fireworks to be used in your home.
Even if fireworks are legal to purchase in your community, fireworks are not safe around children or for use in the home. There are many other festive activities to take part in that do not put your family at risk such as BBQs, festive decorations, and red, white, and blue outfits.
Don't let young children from playing with fireworks, including sparklers.
Many parents do not realize that children can sustain serious injuries from sparklers. Sparklers can burn at temperatures as high as 2,000 degrees and can ignite clothing and cause third-degree burns.
Wave American flags or your hands instead of sparklers.
There are many ways to engage in holiday festivities that do not put you and your children at risk.
Watch at a distance.
The AAP encourages families to partake in community firework displays run by professionals instead of using fireworks in your home. If you take your kids to see a fireworks show, remember that some children can get scared because of the loud noises. Talk to your kids about what they should expect before you go to the show.
Finally, if you or someone you care about does experience an injury from fireworks, be sure to go to a doctor or emergency room right away. Some tips before you get there include:
- If a particle gets into your eye, do not touch, rub, or rinse it.
- If a sharp object enters the eye, do not pull it out. Put a loose bandage over the eye, but do not apply pressure. Go to an ER immediately.
- Do not apply any ointments or take blood-thinning pain medications such as ibuprofen or aspirin.
Leave fireworks to the professionals this holiday season. Engaging in safe firework practices is an easy way to ensure that your family's July 4th holiday is successful.
For more information regarding firework safety in children, visit healthychildren.org or call the Injury Free Coalition for Kids of Miami, a program supported by The Children’s Trust, at 305-243-9080 or visit www.injuryfree.org.
Thankfully, the weather reports help us know when these storms are coming our way. According to the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration, a hurricane warning is issued 48 hours before when a hurricane forming is possible. In contrast, a hurricane watch is issued 36 hours before a hurricane is expected. However, you can prepare for a hurricane far in advance of any storm. Read more.