4th of July Safety Tips for Kids

The 4th of July is a great reason to celebrate, but this holiday also yields thousands of injuries each year, many of those children and teens. Dr. Elizabeth Powell, Emergency Room physician at Lurie Children’s, warns about the dangers and injuries that​ can be sustained from fireworks and other summer activities and provides some safety tips to ensure you have a happy and healthy Fourth of July this year.

The Dangers of Fireworks

Children and teens are particularly at risk when it comes to burns and injuries. “Half the injuries associated with fireworks we see are in people younger than 20 years old. So we know that demographic we serve is at high risk. In particular, kids between the ages of five and nine who have lots of interest to participate in home fireworks but don’t really have the skills yet to do so are often most commonly injured,” said Dr. Powell.

“We see injuries from bottle rockets to roman candles to sparklers. Because sparklers are so ubiquitous, we see more injuries from them. They can get extremely hot, hot enough to melt gold, and cause serve burns.” 

Tips for Celebrating Safely

Whether your family is spending the day at the beach or grilling at a cookout, there are plenty of safety risks. For an accident-free 4th of July celebration, follow these safety tips:

  • Never let your kids play with fireworks. Things like firecrackers, rockets, and sparklers are just too dangerous. Opt for glow sticks or flags for your children to wave, which are much safer alternatives to keep them entertained.
  • Consider ear protection. Not only can the noise scare your little ones, but the sound can damage your child's hearing. Consider noise-canceling headphones or good ear plugs.
  • View entertainment from a distance. If you do attend a public firework viewing, ensure that it is from a safe distance and that they are never left unattended. Always stay aware of your surroundings.
  • Designate a grilling area. Open flames from grills get hot and smoky fast. Ensure the children know only adults can use the grill and they are not allowed near when it is on. 
  • Never leave a child alone in or near water. Whether it's a pool, lake or ocean, water is dangerous for even the best of swimmers. Ensure  children are being watched at all times around water.
  • Apply and reapply sunscreen. The summer sun only increases the risk of harmful sunburns. Be sure to apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going in the sun and be sure to reapply every two hours or after swimming, sweating or drying off with a towel. When possible, stay in the shade.

If an Injury Occurs

If a firework does cause injury such as a burn anywhere besides the eye, Dr. Powell advises to rinse the area with water for at least 15-30 minutes in order to stop the skin from burning.

“A localized, simple blister similar to something you would get from burning yourself on the oven does not need to seek medical attention unless you notice it gets worse over time,” said Dr. Powell.  “Because a child’s skin is thinner than adults they tend to burn more deeply and in that case it’s best to err on the side of caution and seek medical care.”

There can never be enough precaution taken, especially on fun, busy holidays. For more information visit: https://www.safekids.org/safetytips/field_risks/fireworks.

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