One of the most traditional signs of Fourth of July here in Rhode Island is the array of fireworks displays seen pleasing crowds across the state. While fun to watch, fireworks also pose danger for those setting them off and those around them. The Injury Prevention Center at Hasbro Children’s Hospital is encouraging families to help prevent avoidable injuries during the festivities this July, and leave the fireworks to the professionals.
According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, in the period from June 21 to July 21 in 2013, an average of 240 people nationally visited the emergency room each day with fireworks related injuries. Forty percent of those injuries were to children younger than 15, and more than 50 percent were individuals younger than 20.
“One third of all the fireworks injuries reported in 2013 were caused by handheld sparkler type fireworks,” said Dina Morrissey, M.D., M.P.H., program coordinator for the Injury Prevention Center at Hasbro Children’s Hospital. “We need to be mindful that it’s not the big, explosive fireworks that are sending the most people to the emergency room, but rather those that seem smaller and “safer” to most people, which is absolutely not the case.”
The United States Fire Administration warns that children should never play with fireworks or sparklers. Sparklers can reach 2,000° Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to melt some types of metal. Children should never be allowed to pick up pieces of fireworks after an event. Some may still be ignited and can explode at any time.
Of the fireworks injuries reported in 2013, 36 percent were injuries to the hands and fingers, 22 percent were head, face and ear injuries and 16 percent were eye injuries. Sixty-two percent of all the fireworks injuries were burns.
Fireworks, including sparklers and flares, may cause serious burns as well as blast injuries that can permanently impair vision and hearing. “Teach your children how to call 911 in an emergency. Also teach them what to do if their clothing catches on fire - ‘stop, drop and roll,’” said Morrissey.
The Injury Prevention Center recommends that families avoid setting off their own fireworks and instead enjoy a professional, public display. But, Morrissey offers the following tips for fireworks safety for those who decide to purchase fireworks: