Stay Safe During the Fireworks
Written by Jessica Kuhn, MD candidate
with 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 chopped strawberries into straight red stripes and create stars with fragmented blueberries on the white backdrop.
The fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays.
Each year my family has a party, and we play games, swim in the pool, cook out 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.
The number of firework-related injuries soars near the month of July. In fact, according to the CDC, 70 to 75% of all firework-related injuries occur in the month surrounding the fourth of July.
Most alarming, 40% of those injured are children under 14.
This is not to say that the fourth of July festivities should be avoided altogether. With the fourth of July quickly approaching, now is the perfect opportunity to explore safer ways for you and your children to celebrate.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that families adhere to the basic safety precautions outlined below.
Avoid purchasing fireworks to be used in your home altogether.
Even if fireworks are legal to buy 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!
Prohibit young children from playing with fireworks, including sparklers.
Fireworks, including sparklers, are not safe for use around children. Sparklers can burn at temperatures as high as 2,000 degrees and can ignite clothing and cause third-degree burns. Many parents do not realize that children can sustain serious injuries from sparklers.
Safer ways to celebrate:
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 the home. If you take your kids to see a fireworks show, remember that some children can get scared because of the loud noises. Talk with your kids about what they should expect before going to the show.
And, if you or someone you care about does experience an injury from fireworks, be sure to go to a doctor or emergency room.
- 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 fourth of July holiday is successful. For more information regarding firework safety in children, visit the AAP’s www.healthychildren.org or call the Injury Free Coalition for Kids, a program of the Children’s Trust, at 305-243-9080 or visit www.injuryfree.org.