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Healthy Living

Don't Get Burned by Fireworks

US Consumer Products Commission Fireworks Fact Sheet

To help consumers use fireworks more safely, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission offers these recommendations:

  • Do not allow young children to play with fireworks under any circumstances. Sparklers, considered by many the ideal "safe" firework for the young, burn at very high temperatures and can easily ignite clothing. Children cannot understand the danger involved and cannot act appropriately in case of emergency.

  • Older children should only be permitted to use fireworks under close adult supervision. Do not allow any running or horseplay.

  • Light fireworks outdoors in a clear area away from houses, dry leaves or grass and flammable materials.

  • Keep a bucket of water nearby for emergencies and for pouring on fireworks that don't go off.

  • Do not try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Douse and soak them with water and throw them away.

  • Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.

  • Never ignite fireworks in a container, especially a glass or metal container.

  • Keep unused fireworks away from firing areas.

  • Store fireworks in a dry, cool place. Check instructions for special storage directions.

  • Never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks

  • Read and follow all warnings and instructions

Prevent Blindness

Fireworks statistics show:

  • The highest injury estimates were for firecrackers (24%), rockets (20%) and sparklers (18%).

  • Almost half (48%) of the injuries were to children under age 15.

  • Sparklers can heat up to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit, hot enough to melt gold.

  • Parts of the body most often injured are the eyes (30%), hands (29%) and head/face (17%).

  • Data from the United States Eye Injury Registry shows that bystanders are more often injured by fireworks than operators themselves.

  • There were 10 deaths from fireworks in 2000.

If an accident does occur, what can you do right away to minimize the damage to the eye? These eight action can help save your child's sight.

  • Do not delay medical attention even for seemingly mild injuries. "Mildly" damaged areas can worsen and end in serious vision loss, even blindness, that might not have happened if treatment had occurred immediately.

  • Stay calm, do not panic; keep the child as calm as possible.

  • Do not rub the eye. If any eye tissue is torn, rubbing might push out the eye's contents and cause more damage. Trying to rub the eye is an automatic response to pain, but pressure will only do more harm. Take the child's hand from his or her face.

  • Do not attempt to rinse out the eye. This can be even more damaging than rubbing.

  • Shield the eye from pressure. Tape or secure the bottom of a foam cup, milk carton or similar shield against the bones surrounding the eye: brow, cheek and bridge of the nose.

  • Avoid giving aspirin or ibuprofen (or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, called "N-SAIDS") to try to reduce the pain. They thin the blood and might increase bleeding. Acetaminophen is the over-the-counter drug of choice. Unfortunately, non-prescription painkillers will not be of much help. It is better to by-pass the drugstore or medicine cabinet and get to the emergency room right away.

  • Do not apply ointment or any medication. It is probably not sterile. Also, ointments make the eye area slippery. This could slow the doctor's examination at a time when every second counts.

  • Above all, do not let your child play with fireworks. Do not use them yourself and keep family members away from those who do. Even sparklers are dangerous. They burn at up to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit—hot enough to melt gold.

From the staff of Healthy Living

Finally, please remember your pets when you're setting a fireworks display. Most cats and dogs are not fond of loud noises or sudden lights. They have far more sensitive hearing than people and may find the noise painful as well.

Our suggestion? Go to a fireworks show put on by professionals. Sit back, ohhh and ahhh, and just enjoy.

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