We are getting close to the Fourth of July holiday. Do you have any big plans?
For many of us, the holiday means fun times with family and friends, grilling out and fireworks, of course. But because of that last one, Independence Day is also considered one of the most dangerous holidays of the year.
“Fireworks are a big part of the July Fourth holiday, but they can also lead to devastating injuries, especially for our little ones,” said Jill Lucas-Drakeford, a Carilion Clinic community health educator and coordinator of Safe Kids Southwest Virginia. “Each year more than 3,000 children under the age of 15 are sent to the emergency room in the U.S. because of fireworks."
"And sparklers, which most of us think are harmless for kids, account for one-third of the injuries to children under five," added Lucas-Drakeford.
I can attest to that, having caught my hair on fire as a young child while playing with sparklers. My father also almost set my neighbor's yard on fire with a dud firecracker, but we won't get into that.
Sparklers can heat up to 1,200 degrees, which is hot enough to melt glass and much too hot for short, little arms to hold. Instead, Lucas-Drakeford suggested using glow sticks.
“It allows young children to still feel part of any celebration without the chance of getting burned,” she said. “My top tip when it comes to fireworks safety is to leave it to the professionals and attend a public fireworks display.”
However, if you do plan to use fireworks at home, follow these other tips from Safe Kids Worldwide:
- Do not wear loose clothing while using fireworks
- Never light fireworks indoors
- Point fireworks away from homes, and keep away from dry grass, brush, leaves and flammable substances
- Stand several feet away from lit fireworks
- If a firework does not go off, do not stand over it to investigate it
- Put it out with water and dispose of it
- Always have a bucket of water and/or a fire extinguisher nearby
- Know how to operate the fire extinguisher properly
- Closely supervise children around fireworks at all times
- If a child is injured by fireworks, seek medical attention immediately
- If an eye injury occurs, don't allow your child to touch or rub it, as this may cause even more damage
We hope that all of you have a wonderful holiday, and we hope that we DON'T see you in any of our emergency rooms. Happy Fourth!