Fireworks-related injuries rise as 4th of July nears

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Akron, Ohio – Fireworks are synonymous with summer fun and American patriotism, but according to a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) study, 200 people on average go to the emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries in the month surrounding the July 4th holiday.

Burns account for more than half of firework injuries, and according to Becky Mundy, education coordinator at Akron Children’s Hospital’s Clifford R. Boeckman, MD, Regional Burn Center, a majority of these incidents occur from mid-June to mid-July.  

“The most common injuries we see here at Akron Children’s Hospital resulting from fireworks are burns, contusions and lacerations," Mundy said.

Children account for approximately 45 percent of firework-related injuries, with the most common ages being 5 to 14, Mundy said.

The most common injuries to children are caused by sparklers and firecrackers.  The two combined account for almost one-third of injuries to children younger than 5 years.

“Children are more susceptible to injury because they’re curious when they see the colors from the fireworks or the fire,” Mundy said.  “They also have thin skin, so it burns easily.”

The CPSC study also concluded that the areas of the body most prone to injuries caused by fireworks are the hands and fingers, and the head, face and ears. These injuries accounted for over 50 percent of injuries reported in 2012.

Although Mundy recommends leaving fireworks displays to the professionals, families who are planning their own fireworks displays should follow these precautions:

  • Teach children to “stop, drop and roll” if their clothes catch fire. Make sure they know how to dial 9-1-1, and show them how to extinguish fires by using water or a fire extinguisher.
  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them. Never use homemade or illegal fireworks. Even legal fireworks can be harmful if not used properly. Ohio law allows non-professionals to use four novelties: sparklers, snakes, snaps and smoke bombs.
  • Only adults should handle fireworks. Tell children that they should leave the area immediately if they see their friends playing with fireworks.
  • Read labels and carefully follow directions. All fireworks must carry warning labels that describe necessary safety precautions.
  • Make sure spectators are out of range before lighting fireworks.
  • Never aim or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Never allow a person who has consumed alcohol to handle fireworks.
  • Never light fireworks indoors or under a covered area.
  • Never place your face or any other body part over fireworks.
  • Never try to re-ignite fireworks that malfunction.
  • Keep a bucket of water or hose nearby.
  • Never carry fireworks in your pocket.
  • Light fireworks on a smooth, flat surface away from the house, dry leaves and flammable materials.
  • If a firework-related injury does occur, seek medical attention immediately.

For more fireworks safety tips, visit www.cpsc.gov/fireworks or contact the Consumer Product Safety Commission Hotline at (800) 638-2772.

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