Who doesn’t love a beautiful fireworks display? However, many forget fireworks are very dangerous and can cause serious injuries, including death, if not used properly.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), eight people were killed and 12,900 people were treated in hospital emergency departments for fireworks-related injuries in 2017.

Of these statistics, children younger than 15 years old accounted for 36% of the estimated injuries.

CPSC reports children 10-14 years old had the highest estimated rate of emergency department-treated fireworks-related injuries. About 55% of the injuries treated were burns, and most of the injuries involved the hands, eyes, and head, face and ears.

The above statistics do not include those injuries treated in non-emergency room settings or those injuries that were not treated at all.

The highest injury estimates were for firecrackers, sparklers and bottle rockets.

Sparklers can heat up to 2,000 degrees, hot enough to melt gold, and can cause disfiguring burns when not handled appropriately. Most fireworks-related injuries result from misuse, including holding firecrackers too long, picking up lighted fireworks, and having fireworks explode near a bystander.

Coordinated School Health, along with the CPSC, want to remind you of the following fireworks safety tips:

• Always light fireworks outdoors in a clear, smooth, flat area away from onlookers, houses, dry leaves or grass and flammable materials.

• Light one device at a time. Maintain a safe distance after lighting the devices (do not stand right beside the fireworks).

• Keep unused fireworks away from firing areas.

• Do not allow young children to play with fireworks under any circumstances. Sparklers may seem safe for children, but they can burn at very high temperatures and can easily ignite clothing. Children cannot understand the danger involved and cannot act appropriately in case of an emergency.

• Older children should only be permitted to use fireworks under close adult supervision. Do not allow any running with fireworks or horseplay.

• Never point or throw fireworks at another person.

• Do not try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks; soak them with water and discard them safely.

• Never ignite fireworks in a container, especially a glass or metal container.

• Read and follow all warnings and instructions.

• Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks. Data from the U.S. Eye Injury Registry shows that bystanders are more often injured by fireworks than those operating the fireworks.

• Keep a bucket of water or garden hose nearby for emergencies and for pouring on fireworks that malfunction.

• Always store fireworks in a cool, dry place and avoid rough handling that might damage the fuse or handles. Check instructions for special storage directions.

Remember, fireworks are fun and quite pretty but can be very dangerous. Coordinated School Health wishes you a safe and enjoyable summer but remember that safety should always come first. If you have any questions or comments, call 644-3916.

KAYLA GLOVER is a registered nurse, the Henry County School System’s family and community coordinator, and nurse at Lakewood School. Her email address is gloverk@ henryk12.net.

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