Fireworks Are Not a Do-It-Yourself Venture
Celebrate July 4th Safely!

By Deirdre Wilson

The Fourth of July is a great time for cookouts, gatherings of family and friends and public fireworks. But if you plan on setting off your own fireworks, you may end up with unpleasant memories of a hospital emergency room.

Prevent Blindness America, the country’s oldest eye health and safety organization, urges families to only attend fireworks displays from licensed pyrotechnics operators. Last year, about 6,400 Americans ended up in the E.R. during their July 4th holiday due to fireworks injuries. In fact, each year, an average of 400 people suffer permanent vision loss to one or both eyes due to fireworks.

Kids ages 15 and under make up 36 percent of the people suffering fireworks injuries. For children under age 5, a third of the total injuries are caused by sparklers. Did you know that sparklers can burn up to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit?

Prevent Blindness America supports bans on the importation, sale and use of fireworks and sparklers, except those used in authorized public displays by licensed professionals. So far, only five states ban all consumer sales of fireworks: Massachusetts, Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island.

It’s not just consumer fireworks causing the injuries, either. More than 100 people were injured during public displays of fireworks last year, prompting the Consumer Product Safety Commission to advise adults and kids attending these displays to use caution. Fireworks can be unpredictable and falling debris can be harmful.

Safe Ways for Kids to Celebrate

If your kids are looking for ways to celebrate America’s independence, consider these tips from Prevent Blindness America:

• Have children decorate T-shirts or hats with paint and glow-in-the-dark decals.

• Create noisemakers using bicycle horns, bells, pots and pans.

• Distribute glo-sticks, glo-ropes and glo-jewelry to the kids for night-time fun.

You can order a free copy of Prevent Blindness America’s Safe Summer Celebrations brochure and other fireworks safety information by calling 800-331-2020 or visiting

Deirdre Wilson is senior editor at Dominion Parenting Media.
July 2008