The Fourth of July means many things to America, the most important of which is an opportunity to celebrate the freedom we celebrate in this country. It is a time for family, friends and fun. It can also be a dangerous time for children and adults. Over 550 children under the age of 16 require medical care in the four weeks surrounding July 4th, with more boys than girls becoming injured by fireworks. The majority of these boys are ages 12 to 15 years. Although it is important to children to be involved with the fireworks, simple safety precautions can prevent major injuries. First, remember that children require supervision and should always be kept a safe distance from any fireworks display. Children under five are too young to safely hold a sparkler on their own and do not understand why the pretty colored wand is dangerous. Likewise, a baby or toddler will reach for anything brightly colored so avoid holding a baby or toddler while handling fireworks or sparklers. Even older children require supervision while handling sparklers. It is also a good idea to keep a bucket of water handy to dispose sparklers in once they have burned out to avoid a child from picking up a hot one off the ground.
It is a good idea to have one designated person to set up and light the fireworks. Adults should use a taper or firework lighter to light fireworks instead of a cigarette lighter and remember to hold fireworks at an arm’s length or place it on the ground before lighting. Move away from the fireworks after you light it but be very careful not to slip and fall. Never light a firework close to your face or loose fitting clothing and avoid drinking alcohol if you will be lighting the fireworks. Fireworks can have delays in their burn cycles so do not approach a firework until at least one minute has passed since its last activity and do not try to relight a “dud” . The National Council on Fireworks Safety recommends wearing safety glasses when using fireworks and only lighting on firework at a time. Bonfires should be at least 60 feet away from any building or structure, trees, hedges or fences. Never throw fireworks into a bonfire. It is important to ensure that you gather all of the spent fireworks after the display to prevent any burns, fires or any live fireworks from getting into the hands of children. Make sure all fireworks are purchased legally and do not try to make your own fireworks as it is illegal and places you and your loved ones in danger.
Accidents happen so if you do experience a burn, flush it immediately with cold water for at least ten minutes and seem medical attention. Never pull at clothing which may be stuck to a burn and make sure you keep burns clean and covered to avoid infection and aid in the healing process. Remember that any burn larger than a postage stamp should be treated by a medical professional. Remember this Independence Day that simple safety precautions can prevent your fun family celebration from becoming a trip to the emergency room. Have a safe and fun Fourth of July!