December 29, 2003
Revelers urged to ring in New Year safely
By JIm Albritton
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON, Miss.—Celebrating the New Year should be fun and exciting, but Methodist Rehabilitation Center urges revelers to remember that incorrectly used fireworks can turn a joyful celebration into a dangerous event.
Dr. David Collipp, medical director of the rehab surgery program at Methodist Rehab, encourages children and adults to use extreme caution when handling fireworks. Children are most likely to be involved in firework-related injuries.
“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.”
Dr. Collipp and Lauren Fairburn, director of Think First, Methodist Rehab’s statewide injury prevention program, warn parents to never allow children to light fireworks or try to re-light fireworks that have not fully ignited.
“According to a U.S. Product Safety Commission study of fireworks injuries from June 22 to July 22, 2001, children under 15 years old accounted for about half of the number of fireworks injuries and children ages 10 to 14 had the highest injury rate,” Fairburn said. “Most of those injuries were related to firecrackers, rockets and sparklers – just the kind of items that many parents buy for their kids.”
State law in Mississippi permits “consumer fireworks” as defined by the Department of Transportation, but prohibits cherry bombs, tubular salutes, repeating and aerial bombs and torpedoes.
Jackie Moore, fire safety educator for the Jackson Fire Department, says to check with your local police department to determine which fireworks are legal in your area.
“Local fireworks laws may be more stringent than the state laws, so it is best to check,” said Moore.
Fairburn recommends keeping a bucket of water handy in case of a fire and to read and follow all instructions and warnings on firework labels.
“Light it and get back,” said Fairburn.
Fairburn recommends that all children have adult supervision and says there are no completely safe fireworks. “Sparklers, smoke bombs and poppers are suggested for young children because they are the most safe,” said Fairburn.
Think First tips for a safe celebration this New Year include:
- Only buy fireworks from licensed retail outlets.
- Check with your local police department to determine what fireworks are legal in your area.
- Never shoot fireworks in windy conditions.
- Don't purchase or use unlabeled fireworks.
- Never attempt to make your own fireworks and do not purchase or use any kits that are advertised for making fireworks.
- Never mix alcohol and fireworks.
- Use fireworks outdoors, in a safe area away from dry grass and buildings.
- Never extend any part of the body over a lit firework.
- Light one firework at a time and then walk back quickly.
- Never shoot fireworks from metal or glass containers.
- Never carry fireworks in your pocket.
- Never point or throw fireworks at people or animals.
“The most effective way to reduce injuries is to focus on safety awareness and prevention,” said Fairburn. “We want to do all we can to prevent traumatic, often life-changing injuries.”