For many, the Fourth of July holiday is a highlight of summer – and fireworks are often part of the day's festivities. Because of how common they are, many parents may think at-home fireworks are harmless for their children, but that is unfortunately not the case. More than 10,000 people are treated in emergency departments in the U.S. each year due to injury from fireworks. Of these, nearly a third are children under 15.
If you choose to make fireworks part of your celebration, follow these Fourth of July safety tips from the Children's Health℠ Injury Prevention team to keep your family safe and injury-free.
7 ways to keep your family safe around fireworks
- If you choose to use fireworks at home, only purchase legal fireworks from a reputable dealer. Avoid fireworks meant for professional displays and never tamper with the products. Read and carefully follow the instructions listed on the safety label.
- Never give small children bottle rockets or sparklers. As an alternative, give them glow sticks.
- Remember to never let young children touch or light fireworks. In addition, never point a firework at another person, carry a firework in your pocket or wear loose clothing around fireworks.
- As a general rule, keep a bucket of water or hose handy for both emergencies and for disposing of fireworks.
- Never relight a firework that did not go off. Wait at least 15 minutes, soak the firework and dispose of it in a trash can. Be sure to get rid of any unused fireworks in the same way.
- If at-home fireworks feel unsafe for your family, skip them altogether and opt for a local fireworks display.
- If you choose to go to a show, be sure to explain what is going to happen to your young children, who could become frightened of the noise and lights.
What are the most common injuries caused by fireworks?
Injuries from fireworks often occur to the hands and arms, and are frequently caused by holding a lit firework when it goes off. As a result, these injuries are often burns. Eye injuries can also happen if a firework hits someone in the face or head.
What should I do if my child is injured by a firework?
You can treat small cuts or scrapes at home. Be sure to disinfect the wound and cover with a clean bandage. For anything more serious, including larger burns, sprains, broken bones or suspected concussions, be sure to bring your child to your doctor or hospital. In the case of an eye injury, make sure your child does not touch or rub the area, as this can make the injury worse.
Children's Health is by your side keeping your family healthy and safe this summer. See more summer safety tips.
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