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Fireworks safety Children's Wisconsin

Fireworks and kids: How to stay safe this summer

Watching fireworks is one of the joys of summer holidays, but home fireworks are dangerous. In fact, more than 3,000 children under age 15 go to emergency rooms every year as a result of firework injuries.

The best and safest thing to do is enjoy fireworks at a community display and leave lighting fireworks to the professionals. For kids under age 5, it’s a good idea to use safety earmuffs to protect their hearing. 

Fireworks at home present a real danger. With many public fireworks displays being canceled over the last two years due to COVID-19, people were setting off more fireworks at home. Additionally, relaxed laws in the United States have made it easier for kids and teens to buy fireworks and other pyrotechnics at a younger age. And hospitals all over the country saw a corresponding increase in firework-related injuries. The statistics from the Consumer Protection Safety Commission are alarming:

  • In 2020, 18 people died from fireworks related injuries, up from 12 in 2019.

  • In 2020, 15,600 were treated in hospital emergency departments with firework injuries, up from 10,000 in 2019. 

  • In 2020, 29 percent of firework injuries required hospitalization, up from 12 percent in 2019. 

  • In 2020, kids accounted for 18 percent of all firework-related injuries seen in emergency departments. The most common injury was burns to the hands, fingers, arms and legs. 

  • One fourth of kids injured by fireworks were simply bystanders.

Sparkler safety

Sparklers may be Instagram-worthy when they light up the night, but while many parents think sparklers are harmless, they are the leading cause of firework injuries, making up a third of injuries in kids under 5.

Sparklers burn at more than 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit — hot enough to melt glass — making it easy for them to cause severe burns. They can ignite clothing, and the sparkler wire stays hot long after the flame is out. 

Glow sticks are a fun and safe alternative to sparklers, especially for young children. Buy a bunch and see how many kids can hold and twirl at once.

Bottle rockets

Bottle rockets account for half of all firework-related eye injuries, and are also the biggest cause of firework injuries that result in permanent blindness. Bottle rockets are out of control from the moment they are lit, making unpredictable paths. There is simply no safe way to use them.

Firework knowledge

If you do choose to have fireworks at home, use extreme caution and never let kids light or approach fireworks. 

Also, be aware of local ordinances as many communities prohibit fireworks. Wear proper eye protection and ignite fireworks outdoors and away from buildings, cars, dry leaves and grass. Have a bucket of water or fire extinguisher nearby. Never experiment with homemade fireworks.

Keep your celebrations safe and enjoyable this summer by leaving fireworks to the pros.