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Keeping children safe around fireworks

Children should never play with fireworks, safety experts and health professionals advise.

Lighted sparkler

Thousands of children end up in the hospital every year because of fireworks-related injuries, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Safe Kids USA reports that in 2010, 3,400 kids 15 years old and younger were injured by fireworks – 70 percent of the injuries happened around Independence Day.

The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend buying fireworks for personal use.  Even sparklers.

Fireworks can cause burns, bodily injury, and fires, according to Dr. Lisa Gaw, ADC EasyCare pediatrician.  She says sparklers are often thought to be safe, but the CPSC reports that the tips of sparklers can reach over 1000 degrees, cause serious burns and ignite clothing.

“The most common areas of injury involve the hands, eyes, and face. Eye injuries range from local burns to corneal abrasions and blindness,” said Dr. Gaw.

How to stay safe

The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to leave them to the professionals.

“For families wanting to enjoy fireworks, the AAP advises they attend fireworks shows and displays organized by professionals,” said Dr. Gaw.

Many Central Texas cities host fireworks displays. This year, the Austin Symphony will perform the annual July 4th Concert and Fireworks display at Auditorium Shores. Find more information from the Austin Symphony Orchestra.

If you do choose to use fireworks at home, think safety first.

  • Only use fireworks outside.
  • Obey local fireworks laws.
    Burns bans have been lifted in some Central Texas counties, but that doesn’t mean fireworks are legal everywhere.
    Fireworks are illegal in the Austin city limits, but they are legal in some areas of Travis County.

  • Only buy legal fireworks. (Fireworks with a manufacturer label and directions for use)
    Don’t ever use homemade or illegal fireworks (which are unlabeled).
  • Keep a bucket of water or hose nearby in case of a problem or fire.
  • Make sure other people are out of the area before you light any fireworks.
    Point them away from homes and keep them away from flammable materials, like brush and leaves.
  • Never try to relight a “dud.” Wait 20 minutes, then soak it in a bucket of water.
  • Don’t let children pick up pieces of fireworks after an event. Some may still be ignited and can explode.
  • Soak all fireworks pieces in water before throwing them away.
  • Alcohol and fireworks don’t mix.
    Always make sure the person using the fireworks has not been drinking.

For more information about fireworks safety, the CPSC developed a video to demonstrate how destructive fireworks can be: