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University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital and Safe Kids Greater Cleveland Want Everyone to Have a Fun, Safe Fourth of July Celebration

Friday, June 28, 2013

Cleveland, OH – Fourth of July is a time for celebration across the country, and here in Greater Cleveland fireworks and sparklers are a crowd pleaser every year. Whether it is a professional show at a park or a small backyard display, fireworks are exciting to watch—but they can also be very dangerous.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that during the 2010 fireworks season—from mid June until mid July—8,600 consumers were treated in emergency rooms due to injuries from fireworks. More than 3,400 of these injuries occurred to children aged 5 to 14 years old. The majority of injuries due to fireworks, around 70 percent, occurred during the firework season.

“Don’t let children play around ground or aerial firework displays. Since these types of fireworks are the most elaborate, they will be attractive to children, but they are also the most dangerous,” says Dr. Anthony DeRoss, Pediatric Surgeon and Medical Director of the Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Center at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital. “As in any activity, keep children under active supervision—in sight and in reach at all times—when you are near fireworks.”

The vivid lights and colors make sparklers a favorite 4th of July activity for many children. Unfortunately, sparklers can cause serious burns and injuries if not handled properly. Sparklers account for one-third of firework injuries to children less than five years old.

“If you choose to let your children play with sparklers, show them how to hold sparklers away from their bodies, at arm’s length, and hold at the bottom,” says Dr. DeRoss. “Even with the proper instructions, fireworks can be dangerous. Remember to teach children what to do if their clothing catches on fire—stop, drop and roll—and how to call 911 in the event of an emergency.”

In addition to posing a burn risk, fireworks also contain dangerous chemicals that can be very harmful to children, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. Make sure fireworks are out of the reach of children. Fireworks come in bright, colorful packages and can look like candy to a child. If you are concerned that someone may have eaten or swallowed fireworks, contact the Northern Ohio Poison Control Center at 1.800.222.1222.

The only types of fireworks that can be legally purchased and discharged in Ohio are trick and novelty fireworks; however, some local communities have passed ordinances that prevent these from being sold or used. Trick and novelty fireworks include items that smoke, sparkle, snap and snake. For those who choose to have a family fireworks display using these legal fireworks, the State Fire Marshal’s Office encourages people to follow some important safety tips:

  • Handle and discharge trick and novelty devices only under adult supervision.
  • Appoint one adult to be in charge. This person should know the hazards of each type of firework being used.
  • Carefully read and follow the label directions on the trick and novelty device packaging.
  • Light only one sparkler at a time and hold it away from your body and other people.
  • Sparkler wires, which can burn up to 1800 degrees, should immediately be placed in a bucket of water to avoid injury as they remain hot for a few minutes after burnout.
  • If someone gets burned, run cool water over the wound for two or three minutes and seek medical attention when necessary.

“Having a fireworks display in your backyard may seem like a entertaining way to celebrate the Fourth of July, but it can be more dangerous than fun,” says Dr. DeRoss. “The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to watch them at a community event where professionals handle them.”

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