General News

Fireworks Safety for the 4th of July

Posted on Jul 02, 2018

Patrick Mularoni, M.D.

Kids love fireworks and many adults turn into children around fireworks. They bring all of us back to Fourth of July celebrations and evoke fond memories of summertime. Patrick Mularoni, M.D., medical director of the pediatric sports medicine program at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, talks to parents about keeping kids safe during the Fourth of July celebrations.

Even though we are familiar with firework dangers and use, they represent one of the most dangerous holiday traditions in our country. Each year nearly 2,000 children are treated in the United States for fireworks-related injuries. Although illegal fireworks pose a significant danger, many of the 2,000 injuries are from legal fireworks that you can buy at the local grocery store. Those legal fireworks are the ones that do not leave the ground. If you look in the sky on the Fourth of July, it is obvious that these laws are not being routinely followed, but anything that gets hot enough to create a display of light using fire can injure a child whether it leaves the ground or not.

Let’s talk about sparklers in particular. If you are a parent and you want to light sparklers with your child, what should you know?

Children should only use these items under the close supervision of adults. Sparklers are usually used by younger children who don't have great coordination. So we are handing a 5-year old a wire that is less than a foot long and burns at 1,500 to 3,000 degrees. Show children how to hold sparklers away from their body at arm’s length. Before lighting the first sparkler explain to children that sparklers should never be thrown, run with or used as pretend swords. When the sparkler is extinguished, it is still extremely hot and should be put directly into a bucket of water.

Fireworks aren’t the only danger on Fourth of July. What are some final tips that parents can follow to keep the holiday safe?

Hot dogs are a common treat on the Fourth of July, but this is a food that carries a significant choking risk for young children. A good tip is to slice them lengthwise before serving them to a child.

Many of us will be attending pool parties this holiday. Remember, if you’re having a party around water, make sure that there is one adult assigned as the dedicated pool watcher. Drownings often happen at large parties when “everyone” is watching the kids in the pool yet no one is really paying attention.

Finally, this is a time to celebrate our country, our family and a great summer day with those who we love. Fourth of July is also the worst day in our country when it comes to traffic fatalities so please pay attention on the road, make sure you are buckling those children into seatbelts and make this a safe Independence Day.

This information was shared on WTVT-TV’s Doc on Call segment, which is aimed at helping parents learn more about children’s health issues. The segment airs each Monday morning on Good Day Tampa Bay.

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