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Backyard Fireworks on the 4th?  Rethink It to Keep Your Child Safe

SUNDAY, July 4, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- If you're planning on shooting off fireworks on the 4th of July, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) urges you to find other ways to celebrate the holiday.

"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," Dr. James Dodington, a member of the executive committee of the AAP Council on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention, said in an academy news release.

In 2020, about 15,600 people were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments for fireworks injuries, and there were at least 18 fireworks-related deaths, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

Of those who were injured, about 1,100 were under 5 years of age, 1,400 were aged 5 to 14, and 1,300 were aged 15 to 19. Injuries included burns and wounds to the hands and fingers (30%); head, face, and ears (22%); eyes (15%); legs (13%); and arms (12%).

The AAP offers some safety suggestions:

  • Go to a public fireworks display. If your children are too young to get a COVID-19 vaccine yet, be sure to maintain a safe physical distance at public gatherings. Anyone over age 2 who isn't vaccinated yet should wear a mask to avoid the spread of COVID-19.

  • Stay at least 500 feet away from a fireworks launch site.

  • Never let young children play with or ignite fireworks.

  • Wave a flag instead of a sparkler. Sparklers may seem relatively harmless, but nearly half of fireworks injuries to children under age 5 are related to sparklers, according to the CPSC. Sparklers burn at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to melt some metals and can cause third-degree burns to the skin. Also, sparks can ignite clothing and cause eye injuries.

Last year, there were about 900 ER-treated injuries associated with sparklers in the United States. About 1,600 more injuries were related to firecrackers, 600 to Roman candles, and 600 more to bottle rockets and other rockets.

Fireworks and firecrackers can be as loud as 150 decibels, which is far louder than what's considered safe (75 to 80 decibels), so you also need to protect your children's hearing, the AAP said.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more on fireworks safety.

SOURCE: American Academy of Pediatrics, news release, June 29, 2021

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