Fireworks on the 4th of July: 9 ways to keep your kids safe

Sparklers can burn at more than 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit.

As a nurse in the Burn Program at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, I’ve cared for kids who have suffered serious burns to their hands, feet, faces and bodies as a result of the careless use of fireworks.

Many people think sparklers are safe, but I know all too well that sparklers can be just as dangerous as larger fireworks, especially for young children.

Children, age 5 and younger, account for one-third of all firework injuries. Their little arms are too short to hold on to a sparkler, which can burn at more than 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit — that’s hot enough to cause third-degree burns. You can bake a cake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Sparklers even have been known to light clothing on fire. Safe Kids Worldwide suggests young children use glow sticks instead.

Tips to keep your kids safe

If you are going to light fireworks or use sparklers at home, be responsible about the fireworks you buy. I also suggest talking about the dangers with your children. Be sure to follow these tips to keep your kids safe:

  1. Have an adult supervise all fireworks and sparkler activities at all times.
  2. Ignite fireworks outdoors away from buildings and cars, dry leaves and other flammable materials.
  3. Light fireworks one at a time.
  4. The fireworks shooter always should wear eye protection.
  5. Never try to re-ignite fireworks that don’t work properly.
  6. Never carry fireworks in your pocket.
  7. Keep a bucket of water nearby for emergencies.
  8. Never experiment with homemade fireworks.
  9. When using fireworks remember to follow the laws in your area.

The best thing you can do to protect your child is not to use any fireworks at home — period. Attend public fireworks displays, and leave the lighting to the professionals!

Barb Riordan, BSN, RN– Barb Riordan, BSN, RN, Burn Program, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin

Barb is part of the Burn Clinical Practice Committee at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. It includes a team of nurses, a child life specialist, psychologist, physical and occupational therapists, social workers and dietitians, who help oversee care provided to children suffering from burn injuries.

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