Fireworks are an explosively good time for most people, leading to a lot of “oohs” and “aahs” as they burst forth with their bright, multicoloured showers, replete with crackles and pops. Unfortunately, without proper attention, supervision, and care, playtime with fireworks can turn serious very quickly. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, over twelve thousand people were admitted to U.S. emergency care in 2017 due to injuries sustained while handling fireworks. A study done by the CPSC suggests that the sect of society most affected by these injuries is, unsurprisingly, children. Individuals under the age of 20 accounted for half of the injuries sustained according to the study, while children 15 and below made up more than a third.
It’s not surprising that children are so heavily affected. In addition to being less aware of the inherent dangers, they may have not entirely developed their sense of self-preservation. For these reasons, juveniles should never be allowed to play with fireworks unsupervised. If you are going to be including your children in any pyrotechnics (no matter how low-scale), be sure to help them follow these safety tips.
1) Watch the Sparklers -- Sparklers, which are little metal sticks coated in some of a variety of brightly burning fuels, are easily the most common inflictor of injury on children. One of the reasons is that their arms are just not as long as an adults--ergo, the “spark” is much closer to their face and body. These things can burn at temperatures exceeding a thousand degrees and burn as bright as a welder’s tip. Exercise precautions.
2) Avoid Loose Clothing -- Yes, I know it’s hot outside, and everyone is trying to stay cool, but keep it in reason. Loose folds and fabric hanging off of your person make perfect kindling for an errant spark looking for something to light. Firecrackers that fly astray can get caught in the folds of clothing and catch fire or even explode.
3) Protect Yourself -- Make sure that you wear eye protection (face guards are actually even better) while playing with firecrackers. Wear flame resistant clothing. Avoid pointing firecrackers towards yourself.
4) Be Cautious for Others -- Never aim a firecracker towards another person. Do not engage in fireworks wars with friends, as these are extremely dangerous. If you are around another person who is firing off bangers, be sure to stay clear of their area. It is also important to consider the noise pollution of firecrackers. The loud sounds can be disturbing to pets, night workers, and especially veterans. Be considerate of those around you when you are playing.
5) Be Ready To Act -- Regardless of how careful you are, accidents are bound to happen sooner or later. Keep a tool handy to put out any fires that arise from your private show. A fire extinguisher, a water hose, even a nearby bucket full of water can be of use in an emergency. Keep the necessary numbers (police, fire department, ambulance) at the ready, just in case something comes up. You may also want to learn some basic first aid for burns, just to be extra careful.
No one is saying that people should never enjoy the beauty and fun of a good fireworks display, but there are dangers. When you go to light those bottle rockets with the kids this holiday, use caution. Make sure that you are taking every care to ensure both your own safety and the safety of your children.
The Children’s Clinic is a professional association of pediatricians that have been providing the people of Tennessee with quality care for decades. Our highly qualified staff offers compassionate, personalized care from birth through the teenage years. Our office is located at 264 Coatsland Drive in Jackson, TN. You can reach us by calling 731-423-1500 or via our website, www.thechildrensclinicpa.com.