If you live in an American neighborhood like ours, chances are that some Schmuck was setting off fireworks in your neighborhood this past weekend even though the 4th of July isn’t until this Friday. Perhaps they were a week ahead on their calendars? And perhaps they forgot that the only fireworks that are legal in our state are sparklers, trick noisemakers and other novelty items. (That means nothing that launches into the sky and goes boom!)
The truth is that many people know that the fireworks they are “playing with” are not legal in their state. They know that they are dangerous. But they think its fun. Do these statistics sound fun?
Between June 18 and July 18, 2005, firecrackers (26%), sparklers (17%), and rockets (17%) accounted for most of the injuries seen in emergency departments. Sparklers were associated with over half of the estimated injuries among children under 5 years, during the same time period (Greene & Joholske 2006).
And that’s some of the legal stuff! Consumer fireworks aren’t “toys” even though they’re marketed in bright packages that are appealing to children. They shouldn’t be treated as such. A few tips that I think every family should know before going into this weekend:
- NEVER let very young children play with fireworks. Even sparklers can ignite clothing as they are such a high heat. (More on sparklers. Trust me. Read it.)
- Check to see what is legal (and not) in your state. (Also on an easy to read map.)
- If you’re still going to set off fireworks, make sure you’re in an open area, that your town/city isn’t under a Burn Ban due to drought (do you really want to set your own roof on fire?) and have a bucket of water nearby to douse any accidental fires.
- Make sure all children (and adults) are wearing shoes. Stepping on hot embers can cause serious burns.
- Teach your children the seriousness of burns and explosions.
- Have a cell phone nearby to call for emergency help if someone is seriously injured or a fire quickly gets out of control.
I don’t mean to rain on your 4th of July picnic fun. But I also don’t want to see children or adults harmed by what the assume is legal and harmless fun. Fire is fire and fire can be dangerous. Learning what is and is not legal in your state, teaching yourself and your child about proper safety precautions and acting in a responsible manner can keep your family out of the Emergency Room this weekend and back at your own home where you should be having safe fun.
Or, better yet, go to a professional display. Save the danger for the guys that kid paid the big bucks.