Prevent injuries this holiday by using fireworks safely—or not at all

As a child, my parents always said “leave fireworks to the pros,” but as I’ve grown older, the temptation of the festive boxes filled with assorted sparklers, poppers and fireworks have made me question the true dangers behind a “DIY” show.

As I looked at the super-sized package in Walmart, I remembered a neighbor who lived on the street behind us. One Fourth of July, her uncle brought sparklers for all of the kids. As she started to run around the front yard waving the sparkler, she tripped and the sparkler fell and got caught between her sandal and the bottom of her foot. She was rushed to the hospital and ended up with a severe burn that took months to heal.

Years after this incident, I commonly hear parents say that while they know sparklers can be dangerous, it’s a rite of passage for the kids to use them at New Year’s and on the Fourth of July. But as simple and user-friendly as they seem, sparklers can heat up to over 1,200 degrees and can be really hard for children with small arms to hold. I suggest to families that they use glow sticks instead. Many of our local dollar stores sell them and you can find them in an assortment of colors and shapes!

While we want all of our families to have a fun and exciting holiday, the safest option for enjoying fireworks is to leave them to professionals and enjoy them from a distance.

If your family chooses to use fireworks, take the following safety precautions:

    • Make sure you know the local law regarding the use of fireworks. South Carolina has less strict laws regarding fireworks than most states in our nation, but large explosive fireworks or rockets are illegal in SC.
    • Read caution labels before igniting
    • Do not wear loose clothing while using fireworks
    • Wear safety glasses or goggles when shooting fireworks
    • Have a bucket of water or fire extinguisher nearby
    • Use fireworks OUTSIDE in a clear area away from buildings, brush and flammable surfaces

Have a safe and happy holiday!

Lee Penny, MHA, is program manager of injury prevention for Safe Kids Upstate, part of GHS Children’s Hospital‘s Bradshaw Institute for Community Child Health & Advocacy. For more safety information visit safekidsupstate.org.

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