By Tech. Sgt. Chris Rosser, Base Safety Office
/ Published June 03, 2010
ABRAHAM LINCOLN CAPITAL AIRPORT, Illinois -- The American traditions of parades, cook outs, and fireworks help us celebrate the summer season. However, fireworks can turn a joyful celebration into a painful memory when children and adults are injured while using fireworks.
According to the U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) an estimated 5,000 fireworks-related injuries (or 70% of the total fireworks-related injuries) were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments during the one-month special study period between June 20, 2008 and July 20, 2008. CPSC staff has reports of seven fireworks-related deaths during 2008. Two people were killed in incidents involving aerial and display fireworks. One person died in a fire where a firework was the ignition source. Three people were killed in incidents involving homemade fireworks. It is estimated that over 8,800 people will be treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries associated with fireworks and over half the injuries will be burn injuries involving the hands, eyes, and head. Some fireworks such as illegal firecracker type devices (M-80's, quarter sticks) and professional display fireworks should never be used or handled by consumers or children due to serious injuries and death that can and do occur from such use or handling.
Sparklers considered by many the ideal "safe" firework for the young, burn at very high temperatures and can easily ignite clothing. Do not allow young children to play with fireworks under any circumstances. Children cannot understand the danger involved and cannot act appropriately in case of emergency. Injuries to children were a major component of total fireworks-related injuries in 2008 with children under 15 accounting for 40% of the estimated injuries. Approximately 16% of all consumer fireworks injuries are caused by sparklers burning hands and legs, with the majority of sparkler injuries occurring to young children. The National Council on Fireworks Safety recommends children are over the age of 12 before handling. Sparklers and bare feet can be a painful combination. Always wear closed-toe shoes when using sparklers. Show children how to hold sparklers away from their body and at arm's length. Teach children not to wave sparklers, especially wooden stick sparklers, or run while holding sparklers.
To help consumers use fireworks more safely, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission offers these recommendations:
· Older children should only be permitted to use fireworks under close adult supervision. Do not allow any running or horseplay.
· Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Have a "designated shooter."
· Keep a bucket of water nearby for emergencies and for pouring on fireworks that don't go off.
· Do not try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Douse and soak them with water and throw them away.
· Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.
· Never ignite fireworks in a container, especially a glass or metal container.
· Keep unused fireworks away from firing areas.
· Store fireworks in a dry, cool place. Check instructions for special storage directions.
· Observe local laws.
· Never have any portion of your body directly over a firework while lighting
· Never experiment with homemade fireworks.
Have a happy, safe and memorable (for the right reasons) Independence Day!