The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) continues to urge families NOT to buy fireworks for their own or their children's use, as thousands of people, most often children and teens, are injured each year while using consumer fireworks.
Despite the dangers of fireworks, few people understand the associated risks - devastating burns, other injuries, fires and even death. The AAP is part of the Alliance to Stop Consumer Fireworks, a group of health and safety organizations that urges the public to avoid the use of consumer fireworks and to only enjoy displays of fireworks conducted by trained professionals.
FIREWORKS SAFETY TIPS
Leave Fireworks to the Professionals
The best way to protect your family is to not use any fireworks at home. Instead, attend public fireworks displays and leave the lighting to the professionals.
If you plan to use fireworks, make sure they are legal in your area.
Be Extra Careful With Sparklers
Little arms are too short to hold sparklers, which can heat up to 1,200 degrees. How about this? Let your young children use glow sticks instead. They can be just as fun but they don’t burn at a temperature hot enough to melt glass.
Closely supervise children around fireworks at all times.
Take Necessary Precautions
Do not wear loose clothing while using fireworks.
Never light fireworks indoors or near dry grass.
Point fireworks away from homes, and keep away from brush, leaves and flammable substances
Be Prepared for an Accident or Injury
Fireworks can result in severe burns, blindness, cars, and even death.
Fireworks that are often thought to be safe, such as sparklers, can reach temperatures above 1000°Fahrenheit, and can burn users and bystanders.
Stand several feet away from lit fireworks. If a device does not go off, do not stand over it to investigate it. Put it out with water and dispose of it.
Always have a bucket of water and/or a fire extinguisher nearby. Know how to operate the fire extinguisher properly.
If a child is injured by fireworks, immediately go to a doctor or hospital. If an eye injury occurs, don't allow your child to touch or rub it, as this may cause even more damage.
There is No Safe Way to Use Backyard Fireworks
Gary A. Smith, MD, DrPH, FAAP
June 27, 2016
"Doctor, I was standing right there next to him. It happened so fast, that by the time I could react, it was too late."As a pediatric emergency medicine physician, these are heartbreaking words I've heard all too often from parents as their child cries in agony from a firework-related injury they received at a backyard celebration. Let me assure you that these are good parents; they weren't negligent, and they weren't misusing the fireworks. They simply believed the myth that that fireworks purchased for personal use can be used safely.
Having published several studies on firework injuries to children, serving as lead author of the AAP policy statement, "Fireworks-Related Injuries to Children," working for years at the national level on this public health issue, and caring for families devastated when their child was hurt by privately purchased pyrotechnics, let me share with you one of the most important messages I can: There is no safe way to use backyard fireworks. Every type of legally available consumer firework has been associated with serious injury or death, and close adult supervision is not enough. The private use of fireworks is hazardous under any conditions.
Bottle Rockets and Sparklers:
There are many types of fireworks that are legally available under federal law, but let's review two of the more common types that are associated with injury: bottle rockets and sparklers.
Bottle rockets are small rockets with sticks. Their name comes from the practice of standing them in a soda bottle for ignition. Bottle rockets are out-of-control from the moment they are lit, taking erratic and unpredictable paths, and account for half of firework-related eye injuries. They account for an even greater proportion of those resulting in permanent blindness. A 1995 study of data from the United States Eye Injury Registry – which includes only very serious eye trauma – showed that bottle rockets caused almost 60 percent of firework-related eye injuries and about 70 percent of firework eye injuries to bystanders.
Sparklers are another type of firework widely available at grocery stores and road stands. Sparklers are mistakenly believed to be safe by many parents, but are the cause of about 10 percent of all fireworks-related injuries. Two-thirds of sparkler-related injuries are among children younger than five years of age and most are burns to the skin or eye. Sparklers burn at temperatures exceeding 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which can result in a serious burn in an instant.
There are many other reasons not to use fireworks, including hearing loss and the trauma they cause to pets. Fireworks are also the leading cause of house fires on the Fourth of July. This summer, let's urge families to enjoy fireworks at public displays conducted by professionals rather than risk the harm that too often comes with private use.
AAP Policy Statement: Fireworks-Related Injuries to Children
HealthyChildren.org: Stay Safe This 4th of July
Safe Kids Worldwide: Fireworks Safety Tips