June 23, 2004 | By: Laura Skillman
PRINCETON, Ky.

Don’t let an accident with fireworks mar this year’s Independence Day celebration. Every year, thousands of people are injured by fireworks with children being the victims nearly half the time.

The safest way to enjoy fireworks this July 4th is by attending a public fireworks display.

However, if you are going to be using fireworks at home, use only those authorized for home use and follow safety precautions.

As a child, Laura John remembers having fireworks at home including sparklers but today, as a mother of four and an Extension associate for the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service’s Health Education through Extension Leadership program, she does not have fireworks at home.

“I’m one of the people leaving it to someone else,” she said. “I’m still amazed at the number of people who let their kids loose with them. My parents did try to teach us to use them safely but, like other things, as time has evolved we have become more knowledgeable about the dangers.”

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that about 8,800 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms in 2002 for injuries associated with fireworks. More than half the injuries were burns and most of the injuries involved the hands, eyes and head. Nearly half of the victims were under 15 years of age.

Safety glasses or goggles should be used whenever using fireworks, John said. The bright yellow safety glasses made of polycarbonate material and worn for BB gun safety are recommended.

In an effort to increase awareness, John collaborated with Phillip Moss, Ophthalmology Technician Supervisor, University of Kentucky , Kentucky Clinic and Nicole Breazeale, former Extension Health Associate, in 2003 to compile information on fireworks safety.

Here is a list of safety tips, provided by the HEEL publication.

Don’t give fireworks to a small child. Adult supervision is essential.

Don’t stand too close to fireworks.

Don’t ignite fireworks indoors.

Don’t put fireworks in your pocket.

Don’t try to relight duds or make homemade fireworks.

Place of bucket of water nearby to put out fires and douse any fireworks that do not work.

Ignite fireworks only one at a time.

Read and follow the manufacturer’s label instructions.

Dispose of fireworks properly.

In the event of an eye injury, do not delay medical attention. Following steps from Prevent Blindness America may save a person’s sight, John said. These include: don’t rub the eye, don’t wash out the eye, apply pressure, apply ointments or stop for any over the counter medications.

For more information on the HEEL program visit its web site at http://www.ca.uky.edu/HEEL.

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Contact: 

Editor: Laura Skillman 270-365-7541 ext. 278
Source: Laura John, 859-257-2968