RI Hospital Expert on Fireworks Danger: Keeping Kids Safe on the Fourth

Thursday, June 30, 2011


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The Fourth of July is a time for celebration across the country, and here in Rhode Island fireworks are a crowd favorite each year. While fireworks can be fun to watch, they can also be very dangerous.

Across the United States in 2009, an estimated 3,432 children ages 15 and under sustained injuries involving fireworks, with most of these injuries occurring between the middle of June to the middle of July. Children and teenagers are the most likely group to be injured as a result of consumer fireworks. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, approximately 40 percent of people injured by fireworks are under the age of 15.

The safest thing is to watch fireworks at an event

“Don’t ever let kids play with fireworks or sparklers,” said Dina Morrissey, M.D., M.P.H., program coordinator for the Injury Prevention Center at Rhode Island Hospital and the Safe Kids Rhode Island coordinator. “The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to watch them at a community event where professionals handle them,” said Morrissey. It is also recommended that adults never use fireworks when children are present.

Sparklers: 2000 degrees Fahrenheit

The United States Fire Administration warns that children should never play with fireworks or sparklers. Sparklers can reach 2,000° Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to melt some types of metal. Children should never be allowed to pick up pieces of fireworks after an event. Some may still be ignited and can explode at any time.

Fireworks, including sparklers and flares, may cause serious burns as well as blast injuries that can permanently impair vision and hearing. “Teach your children how to call 911 in an emergency. Also teach them what to do if their clothing catches on fire - ‘stop, drop and roll,’” adds Morrissey.

Many types of fireworks are illegal in Rhode Island

Unless a specific permit is obtained, only hand-held and ground based sparkling devices are legal. Where permitted by law, fireworks should be handled and used in strict accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and all warning labels.

For more information about fireworks safety and burn prevention, please go here or to or www.safekids.org.

The Injury Prevention Center at Rhode Island Hospital and Safe Kids Rhode Island work to prevent unintentional childhood injury, the leading cause of death and disability to children ages 1 to 14. Safe Kids Rhode Island is a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations dedicated to preventing unintentional injury.


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