Firework safety tips to help you enjoy July 4th

CHICAGO — Along with the barbecues, family and fun associated with the Fourth of July, the National Fire Protection Association wants people to remember that fireworks involve many risks, including extreme burns, fires and even death.

Nearly 13,000 people were treated in emergency rooms for firework-related injuries in 2017. A third of those cases involved children under 15 years old, according to data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Also, a simple sparkler burns at 2,000 degrees.

“That alone is going to cause second- and third-degree burns,” Chicago Fire Department Deputy District Chief Walter Schroeder said

Schroeder said children can often keep a sparkler too close to their clothing and it could catch on fire.

And if they run, it fuels the flames, which spread up toward the face.

Hand, finger and eye injuries top the list from fireworks. But even if you don’t buy sparklers, just cooking for a family celebration could turn tragic. Experts urge common sense grilling and warn not to add lighter fluid.

“They should be at least 10 feet away from your home,”  Schroeder said.  “We want to keep kids at least three feet away from the area. A safety of circumference around that area is what we are looking for. Make sure you are not under any overhang in your home.”

With propane grills, if it doesn’t light initially, do not try to light it with a match unless you’ve let at least five minutes pass for the gas to dissipate.

And if a fire starts, a common but illegal summer activity may make it more difficult to put out the flames. Fire officials said that’s not the only danger from open fire hydrants.

“You open up that fire hydrant,  we cannot see the kids on the street. They run in front of a car they’re going to get struck by an auto,” Schroeder said.  “Secondly, we lose water pressure. We arrive at the scene of a fire and we do not have enough water pressure to put that fire out.”

From burns to other bodily injuries, activity on the street truly heats up activity at the emergency room.

At Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, they expect a steady stream of kids and adults in the ER on the Fourth of July. Emergency medicine medical director Dr Jon Olsen said, while they are bracing for the burns, they also warn about water-related injuries.

“The other concern we always have are water-related injuries. Drownings are a big concern with little children,” Olson said. “Also, diving injuries, usually intoxicated young men, diving into a pool or body of water and don’t realize how shallow it is and breaking their neck they are paralyzed.  It is a devastating injury. One of the worse that we see.”

Another tip from Dr Olsen is to make sure you drink plenty of water and wear sunscreen and a hat to avoid sun burn and heat exhaustion.

Here are some more tips on how to keep safe this Fourth of July:

  • Do not set off your own fireworks, but rather go to a public show put on by experts. It is suggested that people do not use consumer fireworks. If fireworks are being set off,  keep a close eye on children.
  • Be sure to read all cautionary labels before using fireworks; wear safety googles when shooting them off.
  • If a firework does not light right away, do not consider it a dud. Instead, wait 20 minutes before approaching and then douse it in a bucket of water to avoid an unexpected explosion.
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