Keeping Kids Healthy
By Dr. Sally Robinson and Dr. Keith Bly

We might have had numerous bans for fireworks this year, but it’s important to review them when we are about to celebrate one of our most important holidays frequently associated with them.

The American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee in Injury and Poison Prevention has reviewed fireworks-related injuries to children and has come up with some recommendations.

In its review, it found that in one year (1999), 8,500 individuals were treated in emergency rooms for fireworks related injuries.

Forty-five percent of those individuals were children 15 and younger. The hands (40 percent), eye (20 percent) and head and face (20 percent) are the body areas most often involved.

About one-third of the eye injuries resulted in permanent blindness. In this same year, 16 people died from firework injuries.

Every type of legally available consumer “safe and sane” firework has been associated with serious injury or death.

In addition to bodily harm, they found that in 1997, 20,100 fires were caused by fireworks causing more than $22 million in damages. In this time of serious drought, public officials already are alarmed.

They found that fireworks typically cause more fires on the Fourth of July than all other causes of fire on that day.

As a result of these findings, the academy has made the following statements:

• Fireworks can result in severe burns, scars and disfigurement that can last a lifetime.

• Fireworks that often are thought to be safe, such as sparklers, can reach temperatures above 1,000 degrees and can burn users and bystanders.

• Families should attend community fireworks displays run by professionals rather than using fireworks at home.

• The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends prohibiting the public sale of all fireworks, including those by mail or the Internet.

Be safe.

Sally Robinson is a clinical professor of pediatrics at UTMB Children’s Hospital, and Keith Bly is an associate professor of pediatrics and director of the UTMB Pediatric Urgent Care Clinics. This column isn’t intended to replace the advice of your child’s physician.