The 4th of July weekend is here, which means many families will celebrate with a long weekend with other families and friends. Let’s remember the importance of making it a safe holiday!
Of course the celebration includes fireworks which are definitely fun to watch, but at the same time, when they are used by consumers (many of whom are children and teens) rather than by trained professionals, there are many associated risks. Being on call in the ER as a new doctor was one of the scariest and longest nights in my life...and I can remember seeing children with burns...several which were disfiguring. Burns remain one of my biggest fears.
In 2013 there were an estimated 11,400 people treated in emergency rooms for fireworks related injuries, and the risk of fireworks injury was highest for children ages 0- years, followed by children 10-14 years. I know that having fireworks in your backyard or on the beach is fun, but also dangerous. Although I was used to my boys saying, “ Mom, you tell us that everything that is fun is too dangerous...which not only included fireworks, but trampolines, and motorcycles.” I am sticking to that.
The majority of fireworks related injuries were to the extremities followed by those to the head (eyes, ears, face). The greatest number of injuries were caused by small firecrackers, sparklers, and bottle rockets. Did you know that a sparkler burns as hot as 1200 degrees F, while water boils at 212 degrees F and wood burns at 575 degrees F!! Even a left over sparkler may cause a significant burn to little hands.
Fireworks are best left to the “hands” of the experts. Fireworks are dangerous and can be unpredictable, especially in the hands of amateurs (including parents). Public firework displays are equally enjoyable and are carefully planned and executed. Especially with drought conditions and fires already raging in parts of the U.S. it is especially important to be aware of the risk of inadvertently setting a small fire from a misguided bottle rocket. That small fire may lead to an even bigger fire which destroys acres of land as well as puts firefighters themselves at risk. No one wishes for that scenario but there were over 17,500 fires caused by fireworks in previous years.
Start planning your holiday fireworks viewing now....from a safe venue! Happy 4th!