This post sounds a lot like it’s written by a doctor (I’m colored by the holidays I’ve spent working in the ER). I feel strongly about not using fireworks with children. Fireworks have always kind of freaked me out. When I was a child my father loved fireworks, he used to terrify us by surprising us with hidden explosions in the bushes and whirling bottle rockets off the deck. I like professional fireworks in the sky but I do tend to keep a good distance from the others…scarred for life, I guess.
The Fourth is one of those days we can do better. As the holiday week(end) begins, take a minute to plan ahead. The Fourth of July is one day where we don’t follow our typical routine, and each year July 4th marks a day with a huge bump in injuries. Talk to your children about ways to protect themselves and plan ahead to protect your young children from potential injuries:
- Children between the age of 5 and 14 are the highest risk for firework injuries—over double the risk of the rest of us. I don’t recommend you use any fireworks but if you do, make some serious rules. Ensure that adults don’t let young children light fireworks and supervise older children using any type of firework. Nearly 1/2 of all injuries each year from fireworks occur in children under age 15. Research finds that the hands (40%), eyes (20%), and head and face (20%) are the body areas most often involved. “Every type of legally available consumer (so-called “safe and sane”) firework has been associated with serious injury or death.
- Sparklers seem fairly benign, yet use caution with your kids if you let them hold them. Sparklers burn at 1200 degrees Fahrenheit–hot enough to cause a 3rd-degree burn.
- Remind your teen children and their friends about of risks associated with teens on the road for the holiday. Pull a parent and remind them to wear their seat belt, avoid texting and driving, and ban the use of alcohol for those behind the wheel. The Fourth of July ranks as the deadliest day all year for teen drivers according to AAA.
- If you think you’re too smart for injuries on The Fourth of July, hold on a second. Recent research found that higher levels of education do not protect against firework-related injuries. Even if you’re part of Mensa, this is a day to make back up plans.
Richard Saint Cyr MD says
Great advice! This issue of fireworks is far more serious here in China; during the annual new years festival there are many, many injuries of all ages. Fireworks are sold in most cities and are lit off constantly for a couple weeks, very often right next to buildings. But I must admit that the fireworks display during Chinese new year’s eve is spectacular, and dwarfs anything in the US. You literally look out at the midnight sky and hundreds of spots all over the city are lit up, for a couple hours!
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Thanks, Dr Cyr.
I’m certain it’s incredible to witness. My husband and I were in Costa Rica for New Year’s a few years back and watched an entire valley light up with fireworks. miraculous, really. ANd exceedingly jubilant.
But yes, rates of injuries are higher without legislation. There is a movement in the US to ban the sale of fireworks even—backed by the AAP. The Alliance To Stop Consumer Fireworks