Watching fireworks displays is one of the joys of summer holidays, but home fireworks are dangerous. In fact, more than 3,000 children under age 15 go to the emergency room every year as a result of fireworks injuries.
The best and safest thing to do is enjoy fireworks at a community display and leave lighting fireworks to the professionals. For kids under age 5, it’s a good idea to use safety earmuffs to protect their hearing. If you do choose to have fireworks at home, use extreme caution and never let kids light or approach fireworks.
Sparklers may be Instagram-worthy when they light up the night, but while many parents think sparklers are harmless, injuries from sparklers make up a third of fireworks injuries in kids under 5.
Sparklers burn at more than 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit — hot enough to melt glass — making it easy for them to cause severe burns. They can ignite clothing, and the sparkler wire stays hot long after the flame is out.
Glow sticks are a fun and safe alternative to sparklers, especially for young children. Buy a bunch and see how many kids can hold and twirl at once.
Bottle rockets account for half of all firework-related eye injuries, and are also the biggest cause of firework injuries that result in permanent blindness. Bottle rockets are out of control from the moment they are lit, making unpredictable paths. There is simply no safe way to use them.
If you choose to take the risk of using fireworks at home, be aware of local ordinances as many communities prohibit fireworks. Wear proper eye protection and ignite fireworks outdoors and away from buildings, cars, dry leaves and grass. Have a bucket of water or fire extinguisher nearby. Never experiment with homemade fireworks.
Relaxed laws in the United States have made it easier for kids and teens to buy pyrotechnics at a younger age. The result has been an increase in fireworks injuries requiring hospitalization – from 29 percent of cases in 2006 to 50 percent in 2012. And one fourth of kids injured by fireworks were simply bystanders. Fireworks marketed to kids are not kid-friendly or safe.
Keep your celebrations safe and enjoyable this summer by leaving fireworks to the pros.
– Libbe Slavin, Safe Kids Wisconsin coordinator, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin
Safe Kids Southeast Wisconsin is led by Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. The four-county coalition (Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington, Waukesha) works to prevent accidental injuries, the leading cause of death among children age 14 and younger. The coalition combines the expertise of community agencies and individuals to prevent childhood injuries through collaboration, education, policy and advocacy initiatives.