How Accidents Occur

Bottle rockets can fly into a child's face and cause eye injuries, whereas sparklers can ignite clothing (sparklers burn at more than 1,000°F). Firecrackers also can injure a child's hands or face if they explode at close range. Injuries also may occur from standing too close to fireworks when they explode; for example, if a child bends over to look more closely at a firework that appears to be a dud, or when a misguided bottle rocket hits a nearby child.

Parental supervision is key to avoiding many accidents. One study estimates that children are 11

times more likely to be injured by fireworks if they are unsupervised. In addition, while many younger children lack the physical coordination to handle fireworks safely, they are often excited and curious around fireworks, which can increase their chances of being injured. Homemade fireworks also can lead to dangerous explosions.

Prevention

There are a number of simple guidelines that can make holidays safer for children:

• Only legal fireworks should be used, and only where they are allowed. Forest areas and national parks do not allow any fireworks.

• An adult should light the fireworks, and children should be supervised closely. Children aged 10 to 14 are most at risk, and boys suffer nearly three times the risk of injury.

• Fireworks should be used only in approved open areas and on flat, firm surfaces.

• Lighted fireworks should never be held in the hand, and used fireworks should cool before they are picked up. A bucket of water should be nearby to douse sparklers and other used fireworks before disposing of them.

• All warning labels and instructions should be followed carefully.

• If a lighted firework goes out or does not burn properly, consumers should not return immediately to check. After five minutes, an adult should carefully approach and place the firework into a bucket of water. The fuse should not be reignited.

• Fireworks, matches, and lighters should always be kept out of the reach of small children, who should never play with fireworks.

first aid kits Every home with a child should have a basic first aid kit available, one for the home and one for the car. Pharmacies sell prepared kits, or a family can assemble one themselves with the following important ingredients:

• acetaminophen chewable tablets or liquid for children

• antibiotic cream

• antihistamine tablets or liquid

• bandage strips (adhesive)

• bandage tapes (butterfly) with thin adhesive strips

• calamine lotion

• dressings, nonstick (4 inches square)

• elastic bandage (3 inches)

• flashlight

• hydrogen peroxide 3 percent

• petroleum jelly

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