June 27, 2003
Hospital, firefighters remind July 4th revelers to 'think first' about safety
By Jim Albritton
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON, Miss.—Fireworks vendors are predicting booming fireworks sales this Independence Day, a trend fueled by post-war patriotism and an increase in the number of states that permit the pyrotechnics.
To prevent a corresponding rise in Fourth of July injuries, holiday revelers are being reminded that incorrect use of fireworks can turn a joyful celebration into a dangerous event.
“Most fireworks can be relatively safe with proper and careful use,” said Dr. David Collipp, medical director of the rehab surgery program at Methodist Rehabilitation Center in Jackson. “However, some fireworks are very dangerous and can result in deaths, loss of eyesight, severe burns and amputation.”
Children are at particular risk for fireworks-related injuries, said Lauren Fairburn, director of Think First, Methodist Rehab’s statewide injury prevention program.
“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.
Chase Jeffreys, manager of American Fireworks off Highway 80 in Jackson, says one key to fireworks safety is to always read and follow directions.
“We give each consumer firework safety tips to follow,” said Jeffreys. “Sparklers, smoke bombs and poppers are suggested for young children, but only under adult supervision.”
Dr. Collipp and Fairburn warn parents to never allow children to light fireworks or try to re-light fireworks that have not fully ignited. They also recommend keeping a bucket of water handy in case of a fire.
Here are some more tips from Methodist Rehabilitation Center for a safe celebration this Independence Day:
- Only buy fireworks from licensed retail outlets.
- 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 shoot fireworks from metal or glass containers.
- Never carry fireworks in your pocket.
- Never point or throw fireworks at people or animals.
- Never extend any part of the body over a lit firework.
- Light one firework at a time and then walk back quickly.
“The most effective way to reduce firework 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.”