Sparks of Danger Come with Celebration

June 22, 2012


Doctors recommend leaving fireworks to the professionals.

Fourth of July marks a time for celebrating our country’s independence with picnics, BBQs, pools and fireworks. Sadly, it is also a time that can lead to a trip to the emergency room if precautions aren’t taken. 

In 2010, Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimated U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated nearly 8,600 people for fireworks-related injuries - two in five were children under 15. Most of the injuries happen mid-June through mid-July. While fireworks are beautiful to watch and fun to enjoy, Mercy doctors recommend leaving them to the professionals.

“Each year we have people come in with fireworks-related injuries, usually to their hands, eyes and head or face,” said Dr. Donna Eckardt, Mercy Children's pediatric emergency doctor. “Families should leave fireworks alone and enjoy displays at public events.”

However, if families insist on having their own fireworks, despite the well-documented risks involved, Dr. Eckardt recommends being cautious and following these tips:

  • Never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks.
  • Read and follow all warnings and instructions.
  • Set up safety barriers when setting off fireworks at home; children are curious and may get too close.
  • Only light fireworks on a smooth, flat surface away from the house, dry leaves and flammable materials.
  • Never try to relight fireworks that have not fully functioned.
  • Keep a bucket of water handy in case of a malfunction.
  • Always wear protective clothing. Many times kids are swimming and stop to do sparklers. This is never a good idea, as swimwear doesn’t provide good coverage.
  • Shoes are a must. Aside from stray sparks that can land on the feet, there are often hot leftover casings that may cause serious burns if stepped on.

Surprisingly, even sparklers, which are mistakenly considered safe by consumers, can reach temperatures of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and were associated with 1,200 injuries according to the CPSC, accounting for 20 percent of the injuries.

While taking precautions can help, injuries can still quickly occur. Not all burns need to be treated in the emergency room. Small burns should be wrapped in a clean, cold towel to stop the burning process, and evaluated as to whether they need further medical attention. If you are unsure about the severity of the burn, call 911 or report to your nearest hospital immediately. As in all cases, prevention is the best overall protection to ensure a safe and happy July Fourth.

Mercy is the sixth largest Catholic health care system in the U.S. and serves more than 3 million people annually. Mercy includes 31 hospitals, more than 200 outpatient facilities, 38,000 co-workers and 1,600 integrated physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. For more about Mercy, visit


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