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This 4th of July, Don't Forget Fireworks Safety!

It’s that time of year again, when media outlets tell you what you think you already know: kids can get seriously injured and even killed by fireworks.  “Yeah, sure,” you may say to yourself.  “I know.  But we don’t use anything that’s really dangerous in the backyard.” 

When it comes to 4th of July fireworks, it’s not just contraband that poses a safety threat.  Sparklers and bottle rockets are the greatest cause of eye injuries requiring hospitalization, according to Sherry Williams, President and CEO of Prevent Blindness Ohio.  She says, “Sparklers burn at 1800 degrees Fahrenheit and account for more than half of the fireworks injuries in young children under age five.”  PBO asserts that 9 out of 10 fireworks injuries that send people to the hospital are caused by Federally approved fireworks.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE fireworks, but I don’t set them off myself.  I know it can be tempting, but it’s best to enjoy your local public display and leave the pyrotechnics to the professionals.  If you want to enjoy a homemade display that has the dazzle and bang of fireworks without engaging in the safety risks, take a look at PBO’s clever list of suggestions for creating a cool, fun and safe holiday right in your own backyard:

– After the sun goes down, wrap flashlights in colored cellophane to provide fun shades of light.
– Purchase non-toxic glo-sticks, glo-ropes and glo-jewelry that can safely light the night for kids.
– Make your own firecracker sounds by popping bubble wrap.
– Make 4th of July rockets by using paper towel rolls, paint, streamers and paper cement.
– Have children design and decorate their own t-shirts and hats using glow in the dark paints. Add glitter to make them sparkle.
– Use hypoallergenic face paint or make-up to make designs on your child’s face.

If you’re set on using fireworks this 4th, be sure to follow these tips for fireworks safety, courtesy of the Consumer Product Safety Commission:

– Do not allow young children to play with fireworks under any circumstances.
– Older children should only be permitted to use fireworks under close adult supervision. Do not allow any running or horseplay.
– Light fireworks outdoors in a clear area away from houses, dry leaves or grass and flammable materials.
– Keep a bucket of water nearby for emergencies and for pouring on fireworks that don’t go off.
– Do not try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Douse and soak them with water and throw them away.
– Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.
– Never ignite fireworks in a container, especially a glass or metal container.
– Keep unused fireworks away from firing areas.
– Never have any portion of your body directly over a firework while lighting.
– Don’t experiment with homemade fireworks.

Don’t forget that fireworks are illegal in some states.  Only 39 states allow the use of consumer fireworks, and the use of any type of fireworks is prohibited in New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.  Sparklers and other novelties like snakes (both of which, I admit, I loved playing with as a kid growing up in Central New York) are sanctioned for use in Maine, Vermont, Ohio, Illinois and Iowa.  For more information about fireworks laws in your state, view the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Fireworks Fact Sheet.

Photo: sociotard via Flickr

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