Independence Day is fast approaching and fireworks are synonymous with many of the celebrations throughout our nation. Fireworks displays are beautiful and awe inspiring. However, many cities have cancelled or postponed these annual events. If you choose to celebrate Independence Day this year with legal fireworks, the Michigan Poison Center at the Wayne State University School of Medicine wants everyone at your celebrations to stay safe and avoid injuries and unexpected exposure to the hazardous chemicals found in these products.
Each July, poison centers receive increased calls from parents and caregivers about children who have eaten or otherwise been exposed to firecrackers, firework snakes or other fireworks. Fireworks contain a variety of poisonous chemicals such as arsenic, barium chlorate, phosphorus and potassium nitrate. Symptoms from eating fireworks can range from mild to severe. Upset stomach, vomiting, and diarrhea may occur. Life-threatening symptoms such as irregular heartbeat, difficulty breathing and seizures can also develop.
Fireworks often considered relatively safe for children, such as sparklers, burn at a temperature of 1,500 F, which can cause severe burns. According to the National Safety Council, the majority of burns related to fireworks treated in emergency rooms are seen in people younger than 20 who have used illegal fireworks.
Follow these safety tips to help assure that your Fourth of July celebrations remain safe and enjoyable for everyone:
• ONLY use legal fireworks
• ALWAYS use eye protection
• NEVER pick up lighted fireworks
• KEEP OUT OF REACH of children
• Create an area where only the person setting off the fireworks can enter, and prohibit anyone else from getting close
• Place animals inside in a quiet area; most dogs are distressed by the loud noises
• NEVER let small children handle fireworks, including sparklers
• DO NOT use fireworks if impaired by drugs or alcohol
• NEVER force vomiting if fireworks have been eaten
• Older children should be supervised by an adult when using fireworks
• NEVER light or use fireworks inside or near a house or garage
• NEVER light fireworks near other people or flammable materials and liquids like fuel
• ONLY light one fireworks item at a time
• NEVER attempt to re-light or handle fireworks that have malfunctioned
• Have a bucket filled with water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks, including those that have malfunctioned
To avoid risks related to using fireworks at home, the Michigan Poison Center recommends leaving it to the professionals. Michigan Fireworks Display has provided a link for everyone to enjoy a safe and spectacular show this year. Click https://michiganfireworks.com/by-date/ to find your local event.
For questions about firework safety, or if someone has been exposed to fireworks, please call your Michigan Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 for fast, free and confidential expert advice from health care professionals.