Fireworks safety tips from someone who knows: A doctor who’s seen what can happen when home displays go dangerously awry
Pediatric critical care doctor Elizabeth Mack doesn’t do home fireworks. No way, she says — not after what she sees at MUSC Children’s Health year after year. “On July 4, we will unfortunately see patients with a variety of burns, eye injuries and more.”
Mack serves as a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics
. She’s encouraging people young and old to follow the AAP’s suggestion that they avoid buying fireworks and stick to watching professionally-staged shows on the Fourth of July.
|Dr. Elizabeth Mack|| |
“A lot of people ask, 'What about letting kids use fireworks with adult supervision?' The reality is, most childhood firework injuries happen with a sober adult present. It goes to show that no matter if you’re trying to follow the rules and doing your best, fireworks do their own thing. They can injure you even if you’ve tried to take the necessary safety steps. They can shoot randomly before you're ready or shoot in an unintended direction.”
Even sparklers, which a lot of parents let their children hold, can pose a hazard. “Sparklers can heat up to between 1,000 and 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit, so they get extremely hot,” Mack says. “So those are not recommended for that reason. They can shoot off a spark in your eye. They can shoot off a spark into your leg, and the heat that they produce can severely burn anything.”
This time of year, across the country, about 280 people a day go to an emergency room with fireworks-related injuries. That’s according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
The body parts most injured by fireworks last year:
1. Hands and fingers
2. Heads, faces and ears
5. Trunks and “other”
More than half of the injuries were burns. Mack says even fireworks that go off safely can cause problems. “I have taken care of kids who were hurt in a house fire caused by a firework that was left in a yard.” She also recommends not allowing children not to pick up fireworks after they’ve been shot because they can still be lit or extremely hot. Instead, adults should soak them with a water hose or in a bucket so the yard and house aren't at risk.
Bottom line: “It’s safer and cheaper to see a professionally-done show. Those fireworks have to go through a series of tests, and they’re set off by people with all the right gear who have to be a certain distance away from the spectators, so it’s theoretically a lot safer.”
Stay safe this Fourth of July (healthychildren.org)
Ten fireworks safety so you don't lose a hand (or worse) on July 4 (Prevention, June 29, 2018)
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