Fireworks are a leading cause of injury to children

By Kevin Boozer

July 2, 2014

NEWBERRY COUNTY — At 6 p.m. July 4 Newberry County Law Enforcement holds its annual celebration with free rides and music and with fireworks that begin around 9 p.m.

Though local officials encourage the public to attend the professional event, they realize some people choose to celebrate in other ways, such as private fireworks displays.

“From a public health standpoint, I’d really encourage people go to the high school (for fireworks) and let the professionals handle it,” said Newberry opthamologist Dr. Robert Livingston III.

He said more eye injuries occur to children and youth from baseball and fireworks than any other activities and cautioned adults that even sparklers could have unintended consequences.

“Fireworks and sparklers, (if handled improperly) could result in permanent damage to the eyes,” he said. “Roman candles actually are projectiles moving at a high rate of speed,” he said. “Please be sure that even adult bystanders are 30-40 feet away from fireworks being launched.”

Livingston recalled a patient of his in Chappells who was blinded in one eye by a penny bottle rocket.

He advised that if adults shoot their own fireworks that the person lighting the fireworks wear safety glasses that fit over one’s regular glasses.

Livingston said people need to practice common sense and that these should never place fireworks inside a bottle or hold them in their hands.

“If you place a Roman candle inside a bottle (and it goes off), you have shrapnel,” he said. “The best thing is to lay the firecracker on the ground, light it and get away. And be sure to beware of fast fuses on things like black cats and the different rate of speed for various fireworks and fuses.”

The risk of injury increases around July 4 holiday according to the U.S. Consumer Produce Safety Commission.

In 2013, there were eight deaths and an estimated 11,400 consumers who sustained injuries related to fireworks. This is an increase from 8,700 injuries in 2012.

Sixty-five percent, or 7,400, of the injuries in 2013 occurred in the 30 days surrounding July 4. CPSC staff reviewed fireworks incident reports from hospital emergency rooms, death certificate files, news clippings and other sources to estimate deaths, injuries and incident scenarios.

Injuries were frequently the result of the user playing with lit fireworks or igniting fireworks while holding the device.

Consumers also reported injuries related to devices that malfunctioned or devices that did not work as expected, including injuries due to errant flight paths, devices that tipped over and blowouts.

Last year, children younger than age 5 experienced a higher estimated per capita injury rate than any other age group. Past reports indicate that consumers sometimes feel comfortable handing off to children fireworks devices perceived to be less powerful, such as sparklers and bottle rockets.

In 2013, sparklers and rockets accounted for more than 40 percent of all estimated injuries.

“CPSC works year-round to help prevent deaths and injuries from legal and illegal fireworks,” said Acting Chairman Bob Adler. “We engage the fireworks industry, monitor incoming fireworks shipments at the ports, and enforce federal safety rules, so that all Americans have a safe Fourth of July.”