Tips for a Safe July 4th

HOUSTON (June 30, 2010) – Water boils at 212° Fahrenheit. A cake bakes at 325° Fahrenheit. And if a child is anywhere near these two, they usually get reprimanded.

However on July 4th some children can’t wait to get their hands on fireworks. But did you know the kids’ favorite – sparklers – can reach up to 1,800° Fahrenheit? That’s hot enough to melt gold!

While fireworks are fun to look at, if not used correctly or if used while unsupervised, they can lead to serious injuries.

According to the National Fire Protection Association children ages 10 to 14 have the highest rate of injury from fireworks.

In 2007, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 9,800 people for fireworks related injuries; 56 percent of 2007 emergency room fireworks-related injuries were to the extremities and 36 percent were to the head.

“Some injuries we might expect to see on July 4th are burns to hands, faces and eyes,” said Dr. Angela Siler Fisher, associate medical director of the Ben Taub General Hospital Emergency Center.

But how do these injuries happen?

“Often times people get complacent,” Fisher said. 

While the first couple rounds of fireworks go off without a hitch, there may be one that takes a while to ignite. While the crowd waits, someone may go to check the firework, and as they approach it could unexpectedly go off, resulting in an injury.

Fireworks injuries can range from burns to blindness.

“If a person has suffered an injury to the eye, serious burns to the skin with blistering, loss of sensation and motor function, and bleeding they need to be evaluated in an emergency room,” Fisher said.

So how can you prevent serious injuries? The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission offers these tips:

  • Do not allow young children to play with fireworks under any circumstances.
  • Older children should only be permitted to use fireworks under close adult supervision.
  • Light fireworks outdoors in a clear area away from houses, dry leaves or grass and flammable materials.
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby for emergencies and for pouring on fireworks that don’t go off properly.
  • Do not try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks.
  • Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.
  • Keep unused fireworks away from firing areas.
  • Observe local laws.
  • Never have any portion of your body directly over a firework while lighting.
  • Don't experiment with homemade fireworks.

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