By: Jennifer Rodriguez, coordinator, Injury Prevention Program, at MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach.
Fourth of July is just around the corner, and fireworks are a spectacular event for children and people of all ages. Unfortunately, if fireworks are not handled properly, they can cause property damage, serious injury, or even death. In 2021, there were approximately 11,500 firework-related injuries treated at emergency rooms across the United States, with 32% of injuries involving burns.
In addition, fireworks may pose a health risk to individuals with asthma, as inhalation of smoke from fireworks can trigger asthma attack symptoms such as difficulty breathing, wheezing, chest tightness and persistent coughing.
The Injury Prevention Program at MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach is committed to educating the public in order to keep them safe and away from emergency departments or trauma centers. The program provides fireworks safety educational material to help keep families safe during Fourth of July celebrations.
The safest way to view fireworks is through attending a public fireworks display hosted by professionals. However, if your family or friends are planning to host fireworks celebrations at home, there are safe ways to do so:
- Allow adults to handle lighting fireworks.
- Children should never be responsible for handling fireworks without adult supervision.
- Read and follow all instructions on the packaging to ensure they are set off properly.
- Fireworks should always be lit outside, and pointed away from people, animals, vehicles, structures, or flammable materials.
- Never place fireworks in your hands while lighting.
- Eye protection should be worn when lighting any sort of firework.
- Have access to a water source, such as a bucket of water or garden hose, in case of a fire.
- When lighting sparklers, be mindful by tying long hair back and keep the sparkler away from the face and clothing.
- Never attempt to relight “a dud” and soak fireworks in water before discarding.
- Individuals with asthma should have their inhaler with them while watching or lighting fireworks.
- Southern California is prone to droughts, so be mindful of the conditions in your area.
To further avoid injury, parents can consider fun alternatives to handling fireworks such as glow sticks, glow in the dark bubbles, confetti poppers and silly string for children.
Fourth of July is one of America’s favorite summertime traditions, and we want people to have fun, but we also want to ensure that parents are vigilant and talk to their children about protecting their health this fireworks season. We want everyone to create lasting memories enjoying this holiday safely. Have a safe and happy Fourth!