Emergency professionals at Northwest Health’s emergency departments in Bentonville, Fayetteville, Siloam Springs and Springdale are urging people throughout Northwest Arkansas to use caution with fireworks as Independence Day approaches.
Each year around this time, thousands of people are injured badly enough to need medical treatment. Of these, approximately 50% of the injuries are to children and young people under the age of 20, according to the National Safety Council (NSC).
“Most of the injuries take place from June 16 to July 16, according to Dr. Danelle Richards, Medical Director of Emergency Services for Northwest Health. “Hands and fingers are impacted most often, with head, face or ears next then eyes and legs. While we’ll be working 24/7, we’d rather help to prevent injuries than have to treat them. And, we certainly don’t want anyone to lose their life due to fireworks, though people do every year. We encourage everyone, especially parents of young children, to familiarize themselves with the safety recommendations.”
Since consumer fireworks are legal to buy in Arkansas, be sure to follow these safety tips from the NSC, if you choose to use them:
- Never allow young children to handle fireworks
- Older children should use them only under close adult supervision
- Never use fireworks while impaired by drugs or alcohol
- Anyone using fireworks or standing nearby should wear protective eyewear
- Never hold lighted fireworks in your hands
- Never light them indoors
- Only use them away from people, houses and flammable material
- Never point or throw fireworks at another person
- Only light one device at a time and maintain a safe distance after lighting
- Never ignite devices in a container
- Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks
- Soak both spent and unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding
- Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don't go off or in case of fire
- Never use illegal fireworks
Additionally, parents should be aware that children should never hold sparklers as they burn at about 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt some metals. Sparklers can quickly ignite clothing, and children have received severe burns from dropping sparklers on their feet. According to the National Fire Protection Association, sparklers alone account for more than 25% of emergency room visits for fireworks injuries. For children under 5 years of age, sparklers accounted for nearly half of the total estimated injuries. Consider using safer alternatives, such as glow sticks, confetti poppers or colored streamers.