December 28, 2004
Methodist Rehabilitation Center offers safety tips for celebrating the New Year
By Jim Albritton
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON, Miss.—Methodist Rehabilitation Center reminds revelers planning to celebrate with fireworks this New Year’s holiday to use extreme caution, especially around children.
“Incorrect use of fireworks can turn a joyful celebration into a dangerous event,” said Dr. David Collipp, medical director of the rehab surgery program at Methodist Rehab. “Severe burns, loss of eyesight, and even death can result from misuse.”
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that in 2003 six people died and an estimated 9,300 were treated in emergency departments for fireworks-related injuries in the United States
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.
Fairburn says that adult supervision of the use of any fireworks is essential and that children are at particular risk for fireworks-related injuries.
Even sparklers can be unsafe when used improperly, Fairburn says. They account for more than half the injuries for children under 5.
“Children under 15 years old accounted for about half of the number of fireworks injuries,” 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.
Fairburn 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.”
Fairburn says one key to fireworks safety is to always read and follow directions.
“Fireworks vendors should give each consumer safety tips to follow,” she said. “Sparklers, smoke bombs and poppers are suggested for young children, but only under adult supervision.”
Think First tips for a safe celebration this New Year include:
- 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.