Safely Celebrating Our Independence

Mary Lou Patton, M.D., co-director of the Crozer Burn Treatment Center

1218723_24078185While most of us will enjoy the rocket’s red glare and bombs bursting in air from afar this Independence Day, there are those who will take a more hands-on approach to their fireworks celebrations. Even those that don’t dabble in the loud, colorful and explosive variety of fireworks may let their kids run around with a few sparklers.

But let’s consider that for a moment: we wouldn’t let children run around with pots of water boiling at 212° or pieces of wood burning at 575°. So, why allow children to play with sparklers which burn in excess of 1,200°?

Fireworks are an exciting, traditional and, some would say, essential part of any Fourth of July celebration, but they are still explosives and capable of causing serious injuries and even death.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), more fires are reported on Independence Day than any other day of the year and “fireworks account for two out of five of those fires, more than any other cause of fires.” The NFPA estimates that fires involving fireworks cause almost $21 million a year in property damage.

Image courtesy of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)Additionally, more than 12,000 people are injured and treated in emergency rooms each year for fireworks injuries. Young people under the age of 20 sustain nearly half of all related injuries; most commonly injuring their hands, eyes, head, face and ears.

Sparklers are responsible for 16% of these firework-related injuries and burns, mostly because of a parent or adult giving them to a young child. Children under the age of five lack the physical coordination to safely handle sparklers and they may not understand how dangerous one can be.

My best advice for a safe and happy Fourth of July is to attend fireworks displays given by trained professionals and avoid buying fireworks for personal use. Professionally trained technicians should always handle fireworks in order to avoid hazardous situations.

If you or someone you know experiences a firework-related emergency, call 9-1-1 for immediate medical care.

For more information about burn care services from Crozer-Keystone Health System, visit http://crozerburn.crozer.org.

For more tips on how to keep yourself and your family safe from fire and burns, visit the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) website at http://www.nfpa.org/fireworks.

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