Prevent Blindness Ohio, Ohio Department of Commerce’s Division of State Fire Marshal, Child Injury Prevention Alliance, and the Ohio Eye Care Coalition joined forces at the State Fire Marshal’s Office today to educate Ohioans about the dangers of backyard fireworks.
Ohioans are being urged NOT to use backyard fireworks because of the high fire danger from extremely dry conditions, the risk of personal injury – specifically to young children – and the potential penalty for breaking Ohio’s fireworks law.
In 2011, 9,600 people were treated in emergency departments for firework-related injuries, an increase of 1,000 injuries over the previous year. An estimated 6,200 fireworks-related injuries, or 65 percent of people treated, occurred during the one-month period surrounding the Fourth of July Holiday.
“Prevent Blindness Ohio supports a total BAN on backyard fireworks, including sparklers, which are widely available at grocery and department stores,” said Sherry Williams, President & CEO of Prevent Blindness Ohio. “For children under the age of five, sparklers accounted for the largest number of estimated injuries at 400 injuries (36%) of the total injuries in that age group,” added Williams.
Injuries to children under the age of 15 accounted for 26 percent of the estimated firework-related injuries according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s 2011 Annual Fireworks Report released yesterday. Children and young adults under 20 years old had 36 percent of the estimated injuries. Sparklers accounted for an estimated 1,100 injuries. The part of the body most often injured were hands and fingers (estimated 2,900 injuries), eyes (1,100 injuries), head, face, and ears (1,100 injuries), and legs (700 injuries).
A demonstration by State Fire Marshal Larry Flowers showed sparklers burn at between 1200 and 1400 degrees. “Putting that heat on a wire – which conducts heat – is a severe danger to put in the hands of small children,” said Marshal Flowers.
“Every legally available backyard firework has been associated with serious injury and death”, said Gary Smith, MD, DrPH, President of the Child Injury Prevention Alliance. “Although some people mistakenly believe that backyard fireworks are safe if only adults handle them, our research shows that one-quarter of fireworks-related injuries to children occur to bystanders. These children were not using the fireworks themselves and yet they were still injured. This tells us that children are at risk of injury by simply being in the vicinity of backyard fireworks use,” added Dr. Smith.
There are three types of fireworks in Ohio, all of which are hazardous: Trick and novelty items such as sparklers and snakes that can be legally sold and used by anyone; exhibitor fireworks which require a license to sell, purchase and use; and consumer class fireworks such as bottle rockets and roman candles, which require a license to sell. Consumer fireworks can be purchased by anyone over the age of 18, but must be removed from the state within a certain timeframe and cannot be legally discharged in Ohio.
This year, beyond the penalty for lighting fireworks in Ohio, you pose a greater danger to your community if you try a backyard fireworks show according to Marshal Flowers. Central and southern Ohio were down two inches of rain in May and are already almost two inches behind normal for June.
Below average rainfall is forecast through the July 4th holiday. “Low humidity, dry surface conditions and wind gusts have elevated the fire danger,” said Flowers. “Do not flick a lighter, light a match or set off a firework because you cannot be prepared for what will come next because of these extremely dry conditions.”
A list of frequently asked questions on fireworks is available in the press room at www.com.state.oh.us.
Fireworks Safety Facts:
• In 2011,9,600 people were treated in emergency departments for firework-related injuries.
• There were four fireworks-related deaths.
• 6,200 of the injuries (65 percent) occurred during a one-month period around the Fourth of July Holiday.
• Sparklers (1,100), Firecrackers (800), and bottle rockets (300) accounted for the most injuries last year.
• The part of the body most often injured were hands and fingers (estimated 2,900 injuries), eyes (1,100 injuries), head, face, and ears (1,100 injuries), and legs (700 injuries).
• Sparklers, often given to young children, burn at 1200 degrees or even hotter—hot enough to melt copper.
• For children under the age of five, sparklers accounted for the largest number of estimated injuries at 400 injuries (36%) of the total injuries in that age group.
• The major causes of injuries are due to delayed or early fireworks explosions, errant flight paths of rockets, debris from aerial fireworks, and mishandling of sparklers.
• In 2011, fireworks sparked 90 fires in Ohio causing $590,465 in damages.
• The size of the fireworks product is no indication of the amount of the explosive material inside it.
Prevent Blindness Ohio has these tips to help prevent fireworks-related injuries:
• Do not purchase, use or store fireworks of any type.
• Be aware that even sparklers are dangerous and cause 36% of fireworks injuries in children five years old and younger.
• Protect yourself, your family and your friends by avoiding fireworks.
• Attend only authorized public fireworks displays conducted by licensed operators, but be aware that even professional displays can be dangerous.
• Support policies that ban the importation, general sale and indiscriminate usage of fireworks by children and adults.
The Ohio Eye Care Coalition offers the following guidance in responding to eye injuries:
• Do not delay medical attention, even for seemingly mild injuries. “Mild” injuries can worsen and end in vision loss or even blindness that might not have occurred had a doctor provided treatment early on.
• Do not rub the eye nor attempt to rinse out the eye.
• Avoid giving aspirin or ibuprofen to try to reduce the pain. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs thin the blood and might increase bleeding. Acetaminophen is the over-the-counter drug of choice.
• Do not apply ointment or any medication. It is probably not sterile. Also, ointments make the eye area slippery, which could slow the doctor’s examination at a time when every second counts.