Wow…it’s July already. I hope the summer has started off well for everyone out there.

The 4th of July always reminds me of when my brothers and I were younger and we would buy fireworks from our friends, and shoot them off to celebrate the holiday.

Things really haven’t changed since then. Fireworks are as big as ever, and so are the injuries.

Every year approximately 6,000 kids have a firework related injury that requires them to go to the hospital. The injuries are primarily on the head, hands, eyes and legs. About 120 finger amputations happen every year as a result of an inadvertent explosion from fireworks (more details at http://www.aap.org/policy/04040.html).

There are both legal and illegal fireworks out there. Legal fireworks are called Class C fireworks and include the following: fountains, candles, bottle rockets, sparklers and smokers.

Illegal fireworks are called Class B and include large firecrackers, cherry bombs, m-80’s, and m-100’s. These are the kind that can only be used by professionals at the big firework shows.

Most injuries from fireworks occur as a result of adults who have been drinking too much alcohol, or to unsupervised children. Four out of 5 of those injured are males.

Some general rules may be helpful to protect your children, and prevent any catastrophes from happening:

  • SUPERVISE YOUR CHILDREN!
  • Don’t drink and use fireworks
  • Buy legal fireworks
  • Use them only outdoors
  • Have plenty of water handy
  • Never carry them in your pocket
  • Light them on a flat surface
  • SUPERVISE YOUR CHILDREN!

Now, for some questions…

Are sparklers safer than other types of fireworks?

No. Children are fascinated with sparkers, because they are such an eye catcher. They want to get as close as possible to them, and even hold them. Injuries are primarily those to the face and fingers. Sparklers can burn at 1800 degrees F. (gold melts at this temp), and leave permanent scars. Keep them out of the hands of the little ones.

Are bottle rockets safer because they shoot up and not out at people?

No. Bottle rockets are the most common cause of permanent blindness, because they reach speeds of approximately 200 miles per hour, and will literally put your eye out. What usually happens is someone goes to investigate why it has not taken off yet, and when they lean over to look, the rocket takes off right into their face.

How far away should I be to be safe?

Up to 40% of fireworks injuries are to bystanders. Injuries to bystanders are the result of a firework gone bad. Unfortunately, you come to watch a show, and instead end up in the emergency room. You and your children should be at least 40 feet away from fountain fireworks, and 100 yards away from aerials.

How do I know if my kids have illegal fireworks?

Legal fireworks should have a manufacturer’s name on each item. There also should be directions on how to use each safely. M-80’s, m-100’s and cherry bombs are illegal.

I know there are those of you out there who are saying, “Let kids be kids and enjoy themselves”, or “I’m just going to have a few beers, and then show the kids how to do it”. You may even be saying, “That will never happen to my kid”. But, if it does happen to your child, there is no turning back. The loss of a finger or eye will affect your child for the rest of his/her life. Your best bet is to take your kids to a show put on by professionals, sit back and know that you and your kids are safe.

Happy Independence Day! Mike