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  • Writer's picturePaula Robertson

Safety around fireworks

Important safety tips for enjoying fireworks safely with your families...


Fireworks often mark joyous occasions and can create family memories, particular for big celebrations like New Year's. However, when it comes to children, ensuring their safety around fireworks is paramount. If not used properly, fireworks can damage property and cause serious injuries or even death.


Internationally, we know that the most common parts of the body to be burned or injured by fireworks are hands and fingers, followed by the head, face, ears and eyes in young people. It is for this reason that I fully endorse the American Academy of Paediatrics' recommendation that families should opt for safer alternatives or attend firework displays run by professionals rather than using fireworks at home. We want to avoid potentially devastating injuries as much as possible, so here are some tips to help ensure a safe and enjoyable experience when celebrating with fireworks. 


Preparation Is Key:


Education: Before the event, educate your children about fireworks. Explain the potential danger associated with them and emphasize that fireworks are only to be handled by responsible adults. 


Observation Areas: Choose designated areas for viewing fireworks that are a safe distance away from where the fireworks are being set off. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a safe viewing distance of at least 500 feet from the firework launch site. This will help avoid injuries and protect your child's hearing.


Protective Gear: Consider ear protection such as earplugs or noise cancelling headphones to guard against loud noises in young children and those with sensory issues. Fireworks can be as loud as 150 decibels, about twice as loud as a safe listening level of 75-80 decibels.



Supervision and Caution:


Adult Supervision: Always ensure responsible adult supervision. Designate someone to monitor the children closely, especially if there are multiple families present. If you give children sparklers, make sure they keep them outside and away from their faces, clothes and hair. Sparklers can reach temperatures of as high as 1,800°F ( 982°C) - that's hot enough to melt gold!


Keep A Safe Distance: Maintain a safe distance from where fireworks are being set off, and create a safety perimeter that children should not breach. 


No Handling: Emphasize to children that they should never touch or pick up fireworks, even if they seem unlit or spent, and never attempt to relight dud fireworks. Remind them that fireworks can still be hazardous and can go off unexpectedly.



Precautions After the Display:


Stay Clear: Even after the display, advise children to stay away from any remaining or used fireworks. Some may still be active or emit sparks, presenting a danger.


Cooling Period: Emphasize the importance of not touching or investigating fireworks until they are completely cool. Soak all fireworks in a bucket of water before disposing of them safely.



Emergency Preparedness:


Be prepared: If (against my advice) you do decide to have your own fireworks, always use them outside, and have safety measures like a bucket of water, a hose and fire extinguishers within close reach. Point fireworks away from homes, and keep them away from bushes, leaves and other potentially flammable substances.


Emergency Numbers: Ensure you have emergency contact numbers readily available. Should an accident occur, prompt medical attention is crucial. 


Basic First Aid Knowledge: Equip yourself with basic first aid knowledge. This includes knowing how to treat any minor burns or injuries that may occur.  For example, if an eye injury happens, don't touch or rub it; instead cut out the bottom of a paper cup, place it around the eye and seek emergency medical attention immediately. Similarly, if your child sustains a burn, remove any clothing from the burned area and seek immediate medical attention.



Alternative Celebrations:


Consider safer alternatives to traditional fireworks displays, such as attending organized events by professionals, supporting the use of drone displays or noiseless fireworks and opting for safer, child-friendly alternatives like glow sticks under strict adult supervision.  Do think about pets, as they can get very stressed by firework displays and big celebrations. Keep them safely indoors to reduce the risk that they run loose or get injured.


By taking these precautions and fostering a culture of safety, you can ensure a delightful and hazard-free experience for your children during fireworks displays. Have a safe and enjoyable New Year's celebration!


Be well,

Paula



Dr Paula Robertson is a busy mom and a paediatrician with

over twenty years' experience working with young people and their families. She is also a certified children's mindfulness teacher and Positive Discipline Parenting coach. You can find out more at www.paulathedoctormom.com.




 


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