Fireworks and Kids: Not Worth the Risk
Published: July 1, 2020
Most children love summer: long, hot days spent splashing in the pool or sprinkler, evenings in the backyard and perhaps most importantly, a break from school and homework. Summer also brings the Fourth of July, and with it the noise, colors and dangers of fireworks.
Explosive fireworks injuries
While fireworks often bring neighborhoods and families together, and stands where they are sold serve as fundraisers for schools and local groups, consumer fireworks can be extremely dangerous for children. That’s why the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) discourages families from purchasing and using them.
More than 10,000 people were injured in the U.S. last year due to fireworks, and more than a third of those injuries were to children under 15. Additionally, fireworks were involved in at least 12 deaths.
The hands, eyes, head, and face are common areas injured by fireworks. More than half of the injuries sustained from fireworks are burns, but people can also end up with lacerations, bruises and abrasions. Fireworks injuries can also cause permanent blindness or leave scars that are permanently disfiguring.
No firework is safe
Unfortunately, every type of firework has been associated with significant injury. There is no such thing as safe consumer fireworks.
Projectiles, such as mortar shells that shoot into the air and explode, as well as fountains, which shoot tall streams of sparks, can often tip over and injure spectators. They can also explode early and harm those setting them off. Close adult supervision is not enough to prevent injury or harm. One study found that half of all pediatric firework injuries occurred under adult supervision.
But what about sparklers?
Many parents believe sparklers are safe for children, but this simply isn’t true. Sparklers can reach temperatures above 1,000 degrees. They account for 10 percent of all firework injuries, according to the AAP, and two-thirds of all sparkler injuries occur to children under the age of 5 and are to the skin or eye.
Other fireworks dangers
In addition to direct physical harm, fireworks spark thousands of fires every year. These fires can lead to further injury.
Consumer fireworks can additionally cause hearing loss and trauma to family pets.
Alternative fun on the 4th
This isn’t to say that children shouldn’t celebrate Independence Day or have fun on the Fourth of July. Of course they should!
Children and their families are encouraged to play together, have cookouts and attend block parties and other social activities – keeping social distancing and other COVID-19 safety precuations in mind, of course. Many communities put on large, free professional fireworks displays where children can not only see larger and more impressive fireworks, but also be safe spectators. It’s a great way for the family to spend time together and stay safe.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns about firework safety or any summer concerns, ask your friendly neighborhood Methodist Physicians Clinic pediatrician.