June 28, 2005
Hospital reminds July 4th revelers to 'think first' about safety
By Susan Christensen
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON—Celebrating America’s Independence Day should be fun and exciting, but Methodist Rehabilitation Center urges Mississippians to remember that incorrect use of fireworks can turn a joyful July fourth celebration into a dangerous event.
“Most fireworks can be relatively safe with proper and careful use,” said Dr. David Collipp, a physiatrist (physician specializing in physical medicine), at Methodist Rehabilitation Center in Jackson. “However, some fireworks are very dangerous and can result in death, loss of eyesight, severe burns and amputation.”
Children are at particular risk for fireworks-related injuries, said Lauren Fairburn, coordinator of Think First, Methodist Rehab’s statewide injury prevention program.
“Children younger than 15-years-old account for about half of the number of fireworks injuries with children ages 10 to 14 having the highest injury rate,” Fairburn said. “Most of those injuries are related to firecrackers, rockets and sparklers—just the kind of items that many parents buy for their kids.”
Fairburn warns parents to never allow children to light fireworks or try to re-light fireworks that have not fully ignited. She says that adult supervision of the use of all fireworks is essential.
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. Fairburn says to check with local police departments 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.”
One key to fireworks safety is to always read and follow directions. “Fireworks vendors should give each consumer safety tips to follow,” Fairburn said. “Sparklers, smoke bombs and poppers are only suggested for young children if they are under adult supervision.” But even sparklers can be unsafe when used improperly. They account for more than half the injuries for children under age 5.
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.
- Keep a bucket of water nearby.
“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.”
Methodist’s Think First program works to prevent spinal cord, brain and other traumatic injuries by focusing on bicycle, automobile, firearm, boat, swimming and diving safety. Think First speakers volunteer their time to encourage others to wear safety belts when driving, helmets when riding bicycles and motorcycles and to always think first about what they’re doing before they get into any potentially dangerous situation.