Family cookouts, parades and fireworks mark the celebration of the Fourth of July. However, family fun can turn dangerous if fireworks are used improperly.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 10,000 people sought emergency medical care due to fireworks injuries last year. Approximately 500 required hospitalization; and four died from their injuries. Nearly half of the injured were children younger than 14.
The Oregon Health & Science University Doernbecher Children’s Safety Center encourages families to lower the risks of fireworks-related injuries by choosing to attend a professional fireworks display with friends and families instead of lighting them at home.
"The safest way to enjoy the Fourth of July is to let the professionals put on the fireworks show, but if you do choose to use fireworks at home, take precautions to prevent injuries," said Dana Hargunani, M.D., medical director of the OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Safety Center.
The safety center offers the following tips to help keep children safe this Fourth of July:
- Buy and use legal fireworks from professional fireworks vendors.
- Light fireworks outside and away from people, houses, dry brush or flammable materials; and read and follow all warnings and instructions.
- Small children should not play with fireworks under any circumstances.
- If older children are using sparklers or fireworks, teach them safety precautions and keep them under close adult supervision.
- Keep water nearby (a bucket or a hose) for emergencies. Soak used/malfunctioning fireworks in water before throwing them away in the trash. Do not re-light or handle "dud," or unspent fireworks.