December 27, 2002
Hospital urges parents, children to ring in safe New Year
By Jim Albritton
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON, Miss.—When Susan Christensen spotted the group of young boys at the end of the driveway, her 11-year old son among them, she knew something was up. As she approached, she saw the fireworks.
“Where’s your adult supervision,” she asked. The Brandon mother of two was following one of the main rules of fireworks safety, never allowing children to use fireworks without an adult present.
There were four deaths attributed to fireworks in the U.S. in 2001, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. An estimated 9,500 fireworks-related injuries were treated in U.S. emergency rooms during that same year.
Dr. David Collipp, medical director of the rehab surgery program at Methodist Rehabilitation Center, encourages children and adults to use extreme caution when handling fireworks. Children ages 10 to 14 have the highest risk of injury per capita, followed by children ages 15 to 19 and then children ages 5 to 9, according to the CPSC.
“Most fireworks can be relatively safe with proper and careful use,” said Dr. Collipp. “However, some fireworks are very dangerous and can result in deaths, loss of eyesight, severe burns and amputation.”
Firecrackers were the most dangerous, with 1,500 injuries, followed by rockets with 1,200 injuries. Sparklers, which can reach temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees, accounted for about one-third of the injuries to children under 5. Males are three times more likely to be injured than females.
Dr. Collipp and Lisa Uzzle Gates, director of Think First, Methodist Rehab’s statewide injury prevention program, urge everyone to closely follow safety tips offered by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Council on Fireworks Safety:
- 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 in a clear area away from houses, dry leaves, grass and flammable materials.
- Keep a bucket of water and a garden hose nearby for emergencies and for pouring on fireworks that don't go off.
- Do not try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Wait 15 to 20 minutes, then douse and soak them with water and throw them away.
- Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks. Never point or throw them towards other people.
- Never ignite fireworks in a container, especially a glass or metal container.
- Keep unused fireworks away from firing areas and only light one firework at a time.
- The shooter should wear eye protection and never have any body part over the firework.
- Store fireworks in a dry, cool place. Check instructions for special storage directions.
“It’s such an exciting time of year, it’s easy to get distracted by all that is going on around us,” Gates said. “It’s very important that we take a few minutes to consider what we are doing and make sure we are keeping ourselves, and certainly our children, safe. Children are so fascinated with fireworks and they seldom recognize danger, so we have to keep an especially close eye on them.”
For more information:
New Year's fireworks: Have a blast, play it safe | The Clarion-Ledger