The sparkling, crackling, banging allure of exciting fireworks is irresistible for most kids. Unfortunately, fireworks are dangerous and cause injuries to children every year, particularly around Fourth of July celebrations.
The Consumer Products Safety Commission reports that an average of 240 people visit the emergency room (ER) with injuries related to fireworks each day during the 30-day period that includes Independence Day. In a single recent year, children under 15 years old accounted for about 40 percent of all fireworks-related injuries. Over half of fireworks-related injuries treated in the ER happen to persons younger than 20 years of age.
Despite their dangers, fireworks remain an important part of my families’ Fourth of July celebrations and other events throughout the year. Here are some tips on how your kids can enjoy fireworks without getting hurt.
Only Adults Should Handle and Light Fireworks
Fireworks can be enjoyed without handling them or lighting them. The most enjoyable part of fireworks is watching them explode in showers of light and waves of sound. Kids can enjoy these aspects of fireworks without the need to hold them or light them.
Sparklers, which many adults believe are safe for kids, actually burn at temperatures of up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Children usually lack the coordination of adults, and handling sparklers or other fireworks lead to burns and other injuries to children every year. Play it safe, and allow only adults to handle and ignite fireworks. To be even safer, leave the fireworks to the professionals and attend a public display in your community.
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Have Kids Watch Fireworks From a Safe Distance
The safest way for people of any age to enjoy fireworks is to keep a safe distance from the displays. The farther away you are from lit fireworks, the less chance there is to be injured or burned.
When using consumer grade fireworks (category 2 or category 3 fireworks) it is recommended that you establish a safety zone of at least 80 feet for category 3 and 25 feet for category 2 fireworks. Stray projectile fireworks and burning ground shows will be less likely to injure spectators when seated a safe distance away from the display.
Keep Kids Away From Spent Casings and Duds
No one, including kids, should ever pick up or try to re-ignite used fireworks. It is very possible that what looks like a spent or failed bottle rocket, Roman candle, firecracker or other firework may actually still be smoldering and could suddenly ignite. Picking up such items could result in it exploding in your hands. It is always best to douse such items with water before gathering them to throw away.
Let the Kids Play With Glow Sticks Instead of Sparklers
Glow sticks are a fun and safe alternative to sparklers. They are also a wonderful addition to the overall light show, and will keep children involved in the festivities without risking burns from sparklers.
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Chaperone Your Kids Whenever Fireworks Will Be Used
It just makes good sense to always be with your children whenever you know there’ll be fireworks. If you are going to a picnic or party, make sure you or another responsible adult is with your children when the fireworks are being set off. Keep an eye on them at all times during the show, because we all know how quickly injuries to kids can happen.