Ending the Year with a Bang – Fireworks Safety Tips for the Whole Family

With New Year’s Eve around the corner, safety should be top of mind for everyone planning their gatherings with friends and loved ones. While there are several risk factors to be cautious of this holiday season – including drinking and driving–celebrating with fireworks is an activity everyone should take very seriously.

Fireworks have been on sale in the Greater Houston area since last week, and many families are excited to put them to use this weekend. However, before doing so, be sure you are aware of the risk factors associated with them, as well as regulations regarding the use of fireworks, which can be found on the City of Houston’s website.

In 2016 alone, there were an estimated 11,000 fireworks-related injuries, with children under 5 years old experiencing the highest rate of them. Dr. Todd Huzar, a pediatric burn surgeon affiliated with Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital and UTHealth, has provided some tips and statistics about injuries caused by fireworks.

  • The most common body parts injured due to fireworks are hands and fingers (36 percent of fireworks injuries), followed by the eyes (19 percent).
  • Most fireworks injuries come from common firecrackers and sparklers.
  • Sparklers may seem like a safe bet, but they are hot enough (1,800 to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit) to nearly melt steel. Children should always be supervised while playing with them.

If your child is burned by fireworks:

  • If the burn is minor, run the burn under cool water.
  • Sterile saline solution can be used to clean eyes or clean debris out of wounds.
  • Cling wrap can be used to protect the burn while being transported to the Emergency Center or waiting on an ambulance.
  • Moist burn pads are effective.
  • Aloe vera gel can be used in the days following a burn.

Have a fire blanket or wool blanket nearby in case you need to smother a fire.

“If the burn is larger than your child’s hand, take them to the emergency room,” said Dr. Huzar. “However, I recommend taking any burn to the emergency room since the burn wounds need to be debrided and they may require prescription pain medicine to be cared for at home.”

Casey Rodriguez is the mother of a young girl, Shelby, who was burned by fireworks during a Fourth of July celebration in 2017.

“We took all of the precautions that we could,” Rodriguez said. “The kids weren’t playing with fireworks and they were moved a good distance away so that they wouldn’t get hurt. Unfortunately, the ground was uneven and one of the fireworks tipped over before going off, striking Shelby in the chest.”

Shelby, who is 4 years old, was brought to Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital where Dr. Huzar was able to repair the burns on her chest with multiple skin grafts. Now, nearly six months later, Shelby is still wearing compression garments on her chest as she continues to recover.

“She is still able to run around as kids should,” Rodriguez said. “But the biggest recommendation that I have is for families to go to a professional fireworks show instead of trying to set them off at home.”

For more information on burn safety, visit the Memorial Hermann Red Duke Trauma Institute website.

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Ali Vise