Tips to Keep Your Family Safe this Independence Day
Fourth of July celebrations are full of picnics, beach trips, and parties for many families across the country. But like many Americans, when you think of July Fourth, you probably think about fireworks. Fireworks are a fun way to display our patriotism and celebrate our nation’s birth, but when it comes to handling them, your safety should take first priority.
Each year there are many injuries from amateur and unsupervised use of fireworks. Though damage to skin and fingers is common, many people don’t realize fireworks pose a great risk of eye and vision damage as well. Firecrackers and bottle rockets can produce devastating internal and external injuries with lasting effects. Some state laws forbid the sale and purchase of these types of fireworks, but even sparklers – a seemingly benign device which can typically be purchased for home use – can burn at a temperature hot enough to melt metal, 1,800°F! Suffice to say, even these have the potential to cause serious damage.
Here are some tips to keep your family safe this Independence Day:
- Keep fireworks out of the hands of children. If sparklers are given to children, insist they only be lit outside and that the child understands to keep them away from their hair, clothing and face.
- Purchase only legal fireworks. Illegal fireworks can be detected because they do not have a manufacturer’s label and directions on the packaging.
- Stay away from where fireworks are being launched. When an amateur attempts to handle fireworks, not only is he putting himself at risk, he is also posing a risk to every onlooker present, including children.
- Only light one firework at a time and never relight a dud!
- Keep a bucket of water nearby when lighting fireworks.
- Wear eye protection when lighting fireworks.
- Soak used fireworks (even duds) in a bucket of water before disposing of them.
- Keep pets indoors when launching fireworks. Most pets are very frightened by the sound of fireworks and may try to escape from what is stressing them.
If an injury occurs during a nonprofessional fireworks display, get medical attention immediately. If an eye injury occurs, do not apply any ointment or medication and do not give NSAIDs such as ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve) for pain, as this might increase bleeding. If you must give analgesics, stick to acetaminophen (Tylenol). It is also important to avoid rubbing or touching the eye. Cut the bottom off a paper cup and put that around the eye prior to seeking medical attention. Do not “wait and see” if the injury gets better. Many minor eye injuries can become serious problems simply by delaying medical treatment. If the injury is a burn, remove clothing from the area burned and run cool water over it. Contact your doctor or pediatrician immediately for support.
The good news is that there is a safe way to enjoy fireworks that involves little to no risk: leave it to the professionals. There are many free public displays where professionals can help you and your family enjoy fireworks safely. Those of us at Rainbow Pediatrics want you to know that even during times of celebration, keeping safe is a priority! We wish you a safe and Happy Independence Day!