With the Fourth of July drawing near, officials with emergency departments across the country and here in Virginia have warned about the dangers that fireworks can pose to families. Though you likely view fireworks as a fun way to enjoy the holiday, safety experts say 5,000 people last year suffered injuries related to fireworks in the weeks surrounding the Fourth of July.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), firecrackers, aerial explosives and homemade devices cause the most injuries each year. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the bulk of injuries related to fireworks occur immediately around the busy summer holiday, with 60 percent of the 8,700 fireworks-related injuries happening between June 22nd and July 22nd.
In 2012, six people died in fireworks accidents, including a teenager from Arkansas who taped together 300 sparklers in an attempt to create an especially fantastic display. When the device was lit it set off a massive explosion, which killed the 17-year-old.
The bulk of accidents happen each year because of firework malfunctions, such as when a rocket shoots in the wrong direction. Other causes include lighting fireworks too close to another person or holding burning fireworks in a person’s hands. These mistakes combine to cause an average 200 people each day to check into emergency rooms across the country in the days surrounding July 4th with a variety of often serious injuries.
Most of the injuries that take place each year involve severe burns to the hands, head and face. Twenty percent of all injuries come from sparklers and bottle rockets, two of the fireworks most often viewed as safe for young children to play with. Experts say the facts show that there is no such thing as a safe firework and that parents need to realize that even good-intentioned fun can end in disaster and lead to lifelong disabilities for young children.
Though fireworks are a longstanding Independence Day tradition, safety officials say that the best bet is to leave the work to the professionals. The safest thing parents can do is to take their kids to a professional fireworks display where experts with training and experience handle the dangerous explosives.