It’s that time again, when the Up North’s shorelines explode in a flurry of sound and color. From fountains to airborne beauties to kids with sparklers trying to write their names in the night sky, fireworks are a part of many family Fourth of July celebrations.
One catch: Amid all the fun, it’s often easy to forget that fireworks can be dangerous. Safe Kids Michigan doesn’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but they do want adults to be very aware of the dangers fireworks pose to children.
Of the more than 4,000 fireworks-related injuries to children under 14 each year, the majority occur in the month surrounding the Fourth of July, with older kids (typically 10- to 14-year-olds) suffering the most injuries. Sparklers (often considered the safest fireworks), rockets and firecrackers are responsible for the bulk of fireworks-related injuries.
"Parents and caregivers must be aware of the danger associated with fireworks," says Janet Olszewski, director of the Michigan Department of Community Health, the lead agency for Safe Kids Michigan. "We don’t want parents and guardians to overestimate their child’s ability to handle fireworks. Fireworks are not toys and they have devastating consequences, including injuries to the hands, eyes, or head that can sometimes result in amputations, blindness, or even death."
Here are some Safe Kids’ tips to a colorful and accident-free Fourth of July:
- Only adults should handle fireworks. Tell children that they should leave the area immediately and inform an adult if their friends are using fireworks.
- Discuss safety procedures with your children. Teach children to "stop, drop and roll" if their clothes catch fire. Make sure they know how to call 9-1-1. Show them how to put out fireworks with water or a fire extinguisher.
- Read labels and carefully follow directions. All fireworks must carry warning labels describing necessary safety precautions. Following the directions greatly minimizes the risk of injury.
- Never use fireworks indoors.
- Be sure spectators are out of range before lighting fireworks.
- Never aim or throw fireworks at another person.
- Never place your face or any other body part over fireworks.
- Never try to reignite fireworks that malfunction.
- Never carry fireworks in your pocket.
- Light fireworks only on smooth, flat surfaces, away from houses, dry leaves and other flammable materials.
For more information on fireworks safety, visit usa.safekids.org and click on media center and then click on Seasonal Safety.