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The Scoop

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File / The Journal Gazette

Verbatim: There is no such thing as a ‘safe’ firework

Statement issued Friday:

Fourth of July fun does not have to include a trip to the emergency room – that’s the message from Riley Hospital for Children. And yet, every year, across the nation and here at home, serious injuries and sometimes deaths result from fireworks.

"There is no such thing as a ‘safe’ firework – they are all dangerous,” said Tres Scherer, MD, medical director, Riley Hospital for Children Pediatric Trauma Center. “It is best to leave fireworks to the professionals. Ideally, kids should never play with or operate fireworks. When that isn’t possible, adult supervision is a must.”

According to the 2009 Fireworks Annual Report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), two deaths and 9,000 emergency room visits nationwide resulted from firework-related incidents. Last year in Indiana, 116 firework-related injuries were reported, primarily during the week of July 4. Half of the injuries involved children and adolescents, according to the Indiana State Department of Health’s 2009 Firework-Related Injury Report. Most of the injuries were attributed to the misuse of fireworks, including fireworks exploding earlier or later than expected, errant flight paths, sparks or debris and other malfunctions.

“What people often don’t realize is that the commonly used items – such as sparklers, firecrackers and bottle rockets – usually cause the most serious injuries,” said Scherer. “Burns to the hands or fingers are common, most likely from holding a firework as it explodes. Other common injuries are eye injuries when the handler or bystanders do not wear any eye protection.”

To help keep your family safe this holiday, the CPSC recommends the following safety tips:

  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.
  • Avoid buying fireworks that come in brown paper packaging, as this can often be a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and could pose a danger to consumers.
  • Adults should always supervise fireworks activities. Parents often don't realize that there are many injuries from sparklers to children under five. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees - hot enough to melt some metals.
  • Never have any portion of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Move back to a safe distance immediately after lighting.
  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not fully functioned.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
  • Light one item at a time then move back quickly.
  • Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
  • After fireworks fully complete their functioning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding to prevent a trash fire.

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About Riley Hospital for Children

As one of the nation's leading pediatric hospitals and Indiana's first and only comprehensive hospital dedicated exclusively to the care of children, Riley Hospital for Children, a part of Clarian Health, has provided compassionate care, support and comfort to children and their families for 85 years. Each year, Riley Hospital and Riley Hospital at Clarian North serve over 215,000 inpatients and outpatients from across Indiana, the nation and the world. Riley Hospital's partnership with Clarian Health, and its strong affiliation with the Indiana University School of Medicine, makes it the only comprehensive clinical resource for Indiana's children and the premiere source for health-related information for their parents. From simple care associated with the health and wellness of children and less complex specialty care to the most critically-ill and medically complex cases, Riley Hospital for Children is a national leader. Clarian Health operates the Methodist Hospital, Indiana University Hospital and Riley Hospital for Children campuses as a single hospital under Indiana law. Visit www.rileyhospital.org for more information.

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