Needless to say, fireworks can be dangerous. Even the seemingly harmless sparklers that parents equip their children with can burn at temperatures as high as 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. Each year, fireworks injure as many as 6,000 youngsters. These injuries can include disfiguring burns, permanent loss of eyesight, lacerations, and fractures from exploding fireworks. The most common cause of injuries is the misuse of fireworks: Not being careful with sparklers, holding firecrackers too long, lighting the fuse too close to the firecracker, picking up ‘duds’ that then go off, etc.
Furthermore, fireworks account for more than half of the fires reported on July 4th, the year’s busiest day for firefighters. So if you insist on using fireworks, be sure to implement the following safety precautions:
Fireworks safety for Parents
- Never play around with firework. Children who see this type of behavior will be more likely to be careless themselves. Things like holding firecrackers in the hand and throwing them at the last minute, setting off bottle rockets out of any unspecified place – all this sets a horrible example for children.
- Only light one device at a time.
- Do not use fireworks near dry vegetation or flammable materials.
- Keep children safely away from the fireworks. Fireworks can often leave the ground, and do not always function as intended, as is evident even in professional displays with very expensive products. Around one quarter of all fireworks related injuries involving children occur to bystanders who are not actually handling the fireworks.
- For added safety, have children wear safety goggles or lightly tinted sunglasses when handling sparklers or watching other fireworks. Child safety goggles are cheap and can be found at home improvement stores, and your children should have a pair on hand for occasions such as this. There are around 1,500 eye injures on the 4th of July according to Andrew Iwach, spokesman for the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
- Never try to re-light malfunctioning fireworks. Douse them with water and dispose of them properly.
- Keep a water supply around when using fireworks, so that you can douse any flame that might start. A hose or fire extinguisher is best, but lacking that, even a bucket of water will help. What starts as a fire the size of a candle can burn out of control in the time it takes you to find something to put it out with.
- Make sure all fountains are set on stable, flat ground. If you set them in a position that is in any way precarious, the force of the fireworks can tip it over, potentially turning your fountain into a cannon that is hurling scalding bottle rockets for flame balls directly at your children.
Firework Safety for Kids
- Before setting off fireworks, remind all kids that they will be hot for some time after they are finished. Many children suffer minor burns because they curiously run over to a spent fireworks cylinder and pick it up.
- Teach children to never handle or light fireworks on their own. Explain to them that it is the responsibility of an adult to do that.
- Keep fireworks locked away from children just as you would a gun, to ensure they do not attempt their own fireworks display without your permission.
- Teach kids to be extra careful waving around sparklers. The most common accident involves kids waving a sparkler around through the air and taking out another child’s eye or burning their face.
Fireworks Safety Resources for Kids
Just How Hot Can A Sparkler Get?
- Water boils at 212 degrees
- Cakes bake at 350 degrees
- Wood burns at 575 degrees
- Glass melts at 900 degrees
- A typical sparkler generally burns at 1200 degrees or more.
(Source: National Fire Protection Association)