Fireworks risky for young boys
Debbie Trent wants her 11-year-old grandson Ethan Kindley to have safe fun with fireworks on the Fourth of July.
“I like most of them,” Ethan said.
Trent said the adults in her family will watch Ethan closely.
“To be safe, we make sure we are with him when the fireworks are lit. We make sure to read the instructions on the labels,” Trent said while under the fireworks tent operated by the Full Armour Christian Center of Trinity at Walmart on N. Main Street.
Young boys are seen more often at the emergency room for fireworks injuries. The risk of fireworks injury is highest for children ages 5 to 19 and adults 25 to 44. One-quarter of the victims of fireworks injuries in 2011 were under age 15, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
“Most of these injuries happen when children are not properly supervised,” said Dr. Michael Dunn, emergency medicine specialist at High Point Regional Health System, “and when adults are not sober.”
An estimated 9,600 fireworks-related injuries were treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms in 2011. Sparklers, fountains and novelties alone accounted for 34 percent of the emergency room fireworks injuries in 2011.
“The fireworks in North Carolina have low potency and that reduces injuries, but we still see people with burns that have to go to a burn treatment center,” Dunn said. “We also see eye injuries from the hot ash and burns from accidental fires caused by fireworks.”
In North Carolina, pyrotechnics that are intended to leave the ground, spin or fly through the air are illegal. Those include snake and glow worms, smoke devices, trick noisemakers, string poppers and snappers and wire sparklers. The most dangerous device is the “bottle rocket,” according to experts, because it can be aimed at another person as can fireball-ejecting Roman candles.
Legal fireworks in North Carolina are sparklers, fountains, “snap and pops” and “glow worms.” Caution is still needed, however. A simple, handheld sparkler can burn at a temperature of 1,200 degrees, hotter than the heat needed to burn wood at 575.
On a typical Fourth of July, there are more fires than on any other day of the year, with fireworks accounting for two out of five of those fires, more than any other cause of fires. Last year in North Carolina, fire departments responded to more than 100 fireworks-related calls with an estimated $300,000 worth of property damage, according to the State Fire Marshal’s Office.
NFPA along with the American Academy of Pediatrics started the Alliance to Stop Consumer Fireworks to urge people to attend professional shows to avoid the risks of exploding fireworks at home.
“I tend to agree,” Dunn said. “We need fireworks in North Carolina with low potency for use at home, but you could get more enjoyment by watching a professional display. It’s much safer too.”
With the holiday falling on a Thursday, you can expect to hear fireworks through the weekend, said Brandon Woods, who tended the cash register Monday.
“We’ve had steady business, but we expect it to pick up on the Fourth and if it rains on the Fourth, people will want to do their own fireworks,” he said. “And we will probably sell out. We usually sell about 85 percent of what we have.”
If you plan to celebrate the Fourth of July with fireworks, here are some safety reminders from the American College of Emergency Physicians:
• Have knowledgeable supervision by an experienced adult if you choose to use fireworks.
• Buy fireworks from reputable dealers
• Read warning labels and follow all instructions. Use your digital device on “quick read” blocks on product wrappers to check product descriptions and safety.
• Keep a bucket of water or fire extinguisher on hand
• Light fireworks one at a time
• Dispose of all fireworks properly
• Give any fireworks, including sparklers, to small children; older children should be supervised by a responsible adult
• Light fireworks indoors or near other objects
• Place your body over a fireworks device when trying to light the fuse (immediately back up to a safe distance after you light it).
• Point or throw fireworks at another person, ever
• Try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully
• Wear loose clothing while using any fireworks
• Set off fireworks in glass or metal containers — the fragments can cause severe injury.
• Carry fireworks in a pocket.
Visit www.nfpa.org/fireworks for reports, videos and safety tips.