Amid a rise in fireworks-related injuries, the AAP urged families to “resist the temptation” to use them to celebrate the 4th of July.
The AAP noted that children and teens are among the thousands of people who are injured from fireworks every year, and that fireworks have sparked wildfires and fires to structures and homes.
“We know that sales of fireworks increased in 2020, as did injuries, so parents and caregivers need to be vigilant this 4th of July, and leave any fireworks to the professionals,” James Dodington, MD, CPST, FAAP, an assistant professor of pediatric emergency medicine at Yale School of Medicine and executive committee member on the AAP’s Council on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention, said in a press release.
Approximately 15,600 people were treated in hospital EDs for firework injuries in 2020 — including around 3,800 children and adolescents — and at least 18 people died from their injuries, according to data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) that were cited by the AAP.
The most common injuries were burns and wounds to the hand and fingers, occurring in 30% of cases, according to the data. Other injuries included burns or wounds to the head, face and ears (22%); eyes (15%); legs (13%); or arms (12%).
The AAP offered the following tips for a safer holiday:
- View fireworks from a safe distance. Although there may be fewer public firework displays this year, some communities are bringing them back with COVID-19 vaccines now available for ages 12 and up. If your children are too young to get the COVID-19 vaccine yet, be sure to maintain a safe physical distance at public gatherings. Anyone aged older than 2 years who is not vaccinated yet should also wear a mask to avoid the spread of COVID-19. This is especially true with the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 circulating this summer.
- Wave a flag instead of a sparkler. Sparklers may seem relatively harmless as fireworks go. But according to the CPSC, nearly half of fireworks injuries to children aged younger than 5 years are related to sparklers. Sparklers burn at an extremely high heat: 2,000°F —hot enough to melt some metals. Sparks can ignite clothing on fire and cause eye injuries. Touching a lit sparkler to skin can result in third-degree burns. There were about 900 ED-treated injuries associated with sparklers in 2020. Roughly 1,600 more injuries were related to firecrackers, 600 to Roman candles, and 600 more to bottle rockets and other rockets.
- Protect your child’s hearing. Fireworks and firecrackers can be as loud as 150 decibels — a lot louder than what’s considered a safe listening level (75 to 80 decibels). At close distance, even one loud burst is enough to cause some permanent hearing loss, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Stay at least 500 feet away from the launch site.
- Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.