According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission’s (CPSC) recently released annual report, sparklers, often thought of as the safest of all fireworks, were the second largest cause of firework related injuries in 2014. They accounted for 19% of all injuries and were a close second only to traditional firecrackers which made up 20% of the injuries.
The CPSC also reported that most firework related injuries in 2014 occurred to the following body parts:
Fingers and hands: 36%
Head, face, ears: 19%
How important are those body parts to you? Pretty important, I would think. And as the majority of injuries are burn related, consequences result in a long healing time, a lot of pain, and definitely not a fun rest of the summer.
Sparklers are of particular concern because they are a favorite of young children and often considered to be harmless. As a result, they tend to garner less supervision and are the source of more injuries than they should be. Most injuries from sparklers are often small but very deep burns. The sticks, which can reach temperatures of 2,000 degrees when lit, remain hot long after the sparks die, hot enough to cut through plastic, so just imagine what they can do to your skin! As sparklers are most often used in the dark, many injuries happen when the “no longer lit” sticks are accidentally stepped on or when a child picks up the wrong end of the sparkler.
That all said, we don’t want to be complete party poopers. Sparklers can be fun and interactive when used appropriately with A LOT of supervision. Below are 10 of the recommended safety tips for kids and adults alike. Common sense? Maybe, but most are not often followed.
1. Never leave children on their own with sparklers.
2. Have an adult light them with appropriate long handled lighter.
3. Don’t put them in the hands of anyone who is intoxicated.
4. Never light more than one sparkler at a time. Putting them together creates a risk of a flare-up that kids are not expecting. Many burns to the face occur this way.
5. Make sure kids or other users are not wearing loose flammable clothing that can easily get in the way or caught on the sparkler sticks (think scarves, flowing dresses, floppy hats.)
6. Monitor how many children are using in one area. Spread them out or assign a spot for each of them. Young children are not good at paying attention to their surroundings and are at risk of injury often not from the sparkler they’re holding, but from others.
7. Secure long hair in a ponytail. Really long hair is best in a bun or braided.
8. Keep sparklers far away from other fireworks. They are hot enough to ignite them unexpectedly.
9. Have a bucket of water ready and instruct everyone to put used sparklers immediately into the bucket when done. This prevents injuries from stepping on used sticks or from mistaking a used hot sparkler for a new one.
10. Discard appropriately. Soak used sparklers for at least 20 minutes before discarding in outdoor trash.
For more information on firework safety, or to take a quiz to test your fireworks savvy, see our prior post on “Explosive Facts You Need to Know.”
Wishing everyone a safe and fun 4th!