DAYTON, Ohio – The oooh’s and aah’s of fireworks can quickly turn to ouches, if proper precautions aren’t followed. Dayton Children’s sees several fireworks injuries every year. More than half of all injuries from fireworks nationwide happen to kids younger than 18, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Approximately a third of all injuries come from sparklers and almost two thirds are burns.
Sparklers can burn at up to 2,000 degrees. That’s the same temperature as a blowtorch – it can melt many metals. While sparklers have typically been thought of as acceptable for kids, they really aren’t child’s play. In addition, a child’s arm isn’t as long as an adult’s arm, so the sparks are closer to the body and clothing.
“Don’t ever let kids play with fireworks, period,” says Lisa Schwing, RN, trauma program manager at Dayton Children’s Hospital. “They’re intended for use by adults in open spaces.” The best way to keep your family safe is to enjoy the holiday by attending a public showing where fireworks are set off by professionals.
At home, there are a variety of other items that can be just as fun as fireworks, without the danger. Anything that lights up or glows in the dark can be enough to entertain kids for hours as dark falls over the backyard. There are plenty of options for daylight, too, as well as games that replicate the bang and boom of fireworks.
Some specific ideas include:
Glow sticks, bracelets and necklaces
Flashlights, especially miniature ones or colored lights
Glow paint for the body or fabric
Red and blue bubbles – you can make your own with dish soap and food coloring
If adults do choose to use fireworks at home, remember to take a few precautions first.
“Children should watch from a safe distance with plenty of adult supervision to make sure they don’t get too close,” says Schwing. “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.’”
Buy only legal fireworks that have a manufacturer’s label and directions. Wear protective eyewear and have a bucket of water or a hose nearby, for quick extinguishing, if necessary. Light fireworks one at a time and away from other people and flammable objects, like dry grass or torch oil. Never try to relight a dud and always douse all used fireworks with water before disposing of them, to prevent trash fires.