Fireworks are already going off in our neighborhood, and I hope and pray that an adult is supervising each and every little explosion. In the Pediatric Trauma Department at the hospital, we know too well the damage that even small fireworks can do.
The three types of fireworks that keep emergency rooms busy around July 4 are bottle rockets, firecrackers and sparklers. Here at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt we’ve seen many types of injuries from fireworks such as serious damage to eyes from bottle rockets, third-degree burns from sparklers and trauma of the hands from explosive fireworks.
Between June 22 and July 22, 2012, more than 5,000 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries. Most injuries were linked with malfunctioning fireworks or improper use. Malfunctioning fireworks often resulted in unexpected flight paths and dangerous debris. Improper use included lighting fireworks too close to someone, lighting fireworks in one’s hand and playing with lit or used fireworks. More than half of these reported injuries involved burns to the hands, head and face. About 1,000 of the injuries involved sparklers, which can burn at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you’re going to be around fireworks this holiday week, lay down strict rules for your children to stay safe. The safest way to prevent fireworks-related injuries and deaths is to leave the fireworks to trained professionals.
Firework Safety 101:
- Always read and follow all warnings and labels.
- Always have an adult present, and never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks. This includes sparklers.
- The adult igniting the fireworks should always wear eye protection and should never put any part of the body over the fireworks.
- Use fireworks outdoors only.
- Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.
- Always have water handy (a garden hose and a bucket).
- Only light fireworks on a smooth, flat surface away from houses, dry leaves and flammable materials.
- Light only one firework at a time.
- Never throw or point fireworks at other people or animals.
- Never shoot fireworks in metal or glass containers.
- Never re-light a “dud” firework. Douse and soak them with water and put them in the trash.
- Dispose of fireworks properly by soaking them in water and putting them in the trash.
Have you or anyone you know been hurt by fireworks?