More than 3,000 children under the age of 15 are sent to the emergency room each year in the United States because of fireworks, the majority of which occur on or around the Fourth of July holiday. Children younger than 15 account for one out of every four firework-related injuries. Sparklers burn at around 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to cause third-degree burns and melt glass. Third-degree burns can cause blindness and permanent scarring, and the most frequent firework-related burn injuries are to hands, the head/neck area and eyes.
“It’s important to stress that there are no safe fireworks. Even hand-held sparklers have the potential to cause significant burns,” said chief of burns at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Northern California David Greenhalgh, M.D.
“We also see a lot of campfire burns around this time. Many families go camping during the Fourth of July holiday. We encourage parents to practice the ‘Circle of Safety’ and keep kids at least four feet away from campfires at all times.”
Here’s what parents can do to protect children from firework-related burn injuries this year:
- Lead fun and safe Fourth of July-themed activities with children as a safe alternative to fireworks
- Teach children about the Circle of Safety and remind them to stay at least four feet away from fire pits
- Keep children away from BBQs and any gasoline or fire accelerants nearby
- Never allow children to light or play with fireworks or lighters
- Adult supervision of a designated firework area is key; do not let children near or around fireworks
- Never let children handle sparklers – use glow sticks instead
- Never try to relight fireworks that are not functional
- Adults should dispose of all fireworks in a bucket of water
- Keep a fire extinguisher and/or a hose nearby in case of a fire
- Educate your children about the dangers of fireworks
- Keep flammable liquids (gasoline) away from the designated firework area
- Never wear loose clothing while lighting fireworks, and tie back long hair
Remember, children are always at risk around residential fireworks, even if they are not the ones handling them. The best way to protect children is to not use fireworks at home. Public firework shows operated and produced by trained professionals are safest.
As one of the pioneering and world-leading pediatric healthcare systems for burn care in the nation, Shriners Hospitals for Children — Northern California and partner nonprofit organization Firefighters Burn Institute come together every year to stress the importance of safety during the Fourth of July holiday weekend.
Parents should immediately seek medical attention if a child is injured by fireworks. Call 911 or immediately go to the emergency room. Shriners Hospitals for Children provides world-renowned burn care to children regardless of a family’s ability to pay or insurance status. Locations that provide various levels of burn care include Shriners Hospitals for Children in Pasadena, Northern California (Sacramento), Houston, Dayton and Boston.