Enjoy The Show ... From a Safe Distance
In a flash, about 10,000 Americans will be injured by fireworks while enjoying one of the traditions of Fourth of July celebrations. In 2015, 11 Americans died in fireworks-related incidents.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, about 60 percent of those injuries are sustained between June 20 and July 20.
David Dierks, D.O., Genesis emergency department medical director, believes the best way to avoid a trip to the emergency department is to leave fireworks displays to the professionals.
Iowa legalized the sale of fireworks in the last legislative session but that fact doesn’t mean they are less dangerous.
“The professional fireworks displays like Red, White and Boom are safer, bigger and better than anything we can do in our backyards,’’ Dr. Dierks said. “Even sparklers burn at nearly 2,000 degrees (Fahrenheit) and can be dangerous. That is hot enough to melt some metals. Used improperly, they can cause burns and burn clothing.
“If kids use sparklers, we urge close parental supervision and urge kids to stay in one place and not run with sparklers.’’
Sparklers account for about 20 percent of the total fireworks-related injuries seen in emergency departments. About one-quarter of all fireworks-related injuries are sustained by children nine years old and younger.
Firecrackers also account for about 20 percent of injuries.
Dierks said the most disturbing statistic is that children under age 15 account for about 26 percent of fireworks-related injuries.
“A child will tell parents, ‘I can do it myself, I don’t need help.’ Often the child can’t do it themselves and there are injuries,’’ Dierks said. “Those injuries can be severe.
“One of the reasons we continue to see fireworks injuries, some of them severe or fatal, is that people don’t recognize how dangerous these devices can be. Children often lack the physical coordination to handle any
fireworks safely. Even with a sparkler, they can fall and suffer burns.’’
Here are recommendations from Genesis and from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to prevent fireworks injuries at home:
• Make sure the fireworks you want to buy are legal in your area before buying or using them.
• Never allow young children ignite fireworks, including sparklers. Sparklers burn hot enough to melt some metals.
• Do not buy fireworks packaged in brown paper or tubing, which is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays.
• Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
• Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy, in case of fire or other mishap.
• Never try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them with water and throw them away.
• Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
• Light fireworks one at a time, then move away from them quickly.
• After fireworks are burned out, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding the device to prevent a trash fire.
• Light fireworks outdoors in areas clear of houses, dry leaves, grass or flammable materials.
• Do not smoke while handling fireworks.
• Ignite fireworks only on smooth, flat surfaces.
• Don’t place fireworks in containers before lighting.
• Alcohol and fireworks are a dangerous combination.