It’s that time of year again when everyone is thinking about fireworks. Summer Safety Tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics have reviewed fireworks.

Every community has various restrictions and bans on fireworks, and parents should be aware of the restrictions in their community. The AAP’s Committee in Injury and Poison Prevention has reviewed fireworks-related injuries to children and has come up with some recommendations.

Dr. Gary Smith reported in 2006 that more than 85,000 children were treated in U.S. emergency departments during a 14-year period. Interestingly, one-fourth of the children were bystanders and not handling the fireworks.

Forty-five percent of those individuals were children younger than 15 years old. The hands (40 percent), eye (20 percent), and head and face (20 percent) are the body areas most often involved. Approximately one-third of the eye injuries resulted in permanent blindness.

Sixteen people died from firework injuries. Every type of legally available consumer “safe and sane” firework has been associated with serious injury or death.

In addition to bodily harm they found that in 1997, 20,100 fires were caused by fireworks causing over $22 million in damages, and in these times of serious drought, the public officials are especially alarmed. They found that fireworks typically cause more fires on the Fourth of July than all other causes of fire on that day.

As a result of these findings they have made the following statements:

• Fireworks can result in severe burns, scars and disfigurement that can last a lifetime.

• Fireworks that are often thought to be safe, such as sparklers, can reach temperatures above 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit and can burn users and bystanders.

• Families should attend community fireworks displays run by professionals rather than using fireworks at home.

• The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends prohibiting the public sale of all fireworks, including those by mail or the internet.

Be safe.

Sally Robinson is a clinical professor of pediatrics at UTMB Children’s Hospital. This column isn’t intended to replace the advice of your child’s physician.

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