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Ask the Expert: Firework Safety Tips

July 03, 2019

Posted in Safety

Kids are drawn to fireworks like moths to a flame. It makes sense; they're colorful, bright, loud and only available on special occasions. Here's the bottom line: Even though fireworks are a lot of fun, they are extremely dangerous.

Each year, more than 10,000 people are burned by fireworks across the U.S. Who is at greatest risk for these injuries? Kids between the ages of 5 and 14, according to the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Burn Center. The majority of these injuries include burns to the hands, eyes and face.

Even fireworks that seem kid-friendly, like sparklers, can cause serious injury. Sparklers can reach up to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit in a matter of seconds. Sparklers are one of the top causes of injury during the days surrounding Independence Day. The emergency departments at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock and Arkansas Children’s Northwest in Springdale treat several second- and third-degree burns caused by sparklers every year.

Gretta Wilkinson, RN, who is an outreach coordinator for the ACH Burn Center, reports that for every 1 percent of the body surface burned in a fireworks injury, children spend at least one day in the hospital recovering. These injuries can frequently cover up to a 1/3 of the body.

"People don't realize how costly a burn injury is," Wilkinson says, "It is one of the most painful injuries that you can have."

The good news is that you can easily prevent these burns! The best way to protect kids from fireworks is not to have them around the house or use them at all.

You can still enjoy the beauty of fireworks, of course, but by going to a professional display, instead. Let's face it: Big public fireworks shows are where the good stuff is anyway! Those massive explosions in the sky are much more entertaining than any of the bursts provided by items sold at road-side stands.

If your families plan on taking the surprisingly high risk of using personal fireworks, here are some tips for creating a safer experience:

  • Only adults should handle fireworks.
  • Do not alter, combine or create your own fireworks.
  • Never shoot fireworks while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Don't purchase fireworks that look like toys; these pose a higher risk to kids who don't understand their power.
  • Keep water near in the event of a fire.
  • Seek help or call 911 if burns are larger than the size of a quarter, cover any joint part or extremities.
  • If a child is on fire, stop, drop and roll. Stand still and use a water hose to extinguish the flames.
  • Do not put ice on a burn; it can deepen it and decrease the child's body temperature. Until paramedics arrive, keep the child warm with a blanket.
  • Do not treat burns at home. Seek the advice of a medical professional immediately.

You won't need to worry about the risks that fireworks pose if you opt to go to a professional display this season instead. Professionals stage these shows and firefighters are always on site.
We hope you’ll never have to bring your child to one of our emergency departments. But our award-winning pediatric emergency experts are standing by 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to treat your children if needed.

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