Keeping your children safe is one of the major responsibilities of being a mom. Yet when the Fourth of July rolls around, our society often turns a blind eye to a very real safety risk: the careless or illegal use of fireworks.
According to the office of Wisconsin's Attorney General, J.B. Van Hollen, the only fireworks type items allowed without a permit are sparklers less than thirty-six inches long, stationary cones and fountains, toy snakes, smoke bombs, caps, noisemakers, confetti poppers with less than one-fourth gram of explosive matter and novelty items that spin but stay on the ground.
However, when thinking about having fireworks at your Fourth of July celebration, you need to consider more than just the legalities of it. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services recently updated and re-released its fact sheet on Fireworks Data and Statistics.
According to that sheet, in 2007 hospital emergency room personnel in United States hospitals treated approximately 9800 people for fireworks-related injuries. Of those injuries, 56% were to the extremities and 36% were to the head. These facts are especially relevant to children since the risk to children ages five to nine or ages ten to fourteen was two-and-one-half times as high as to the general population.
The same fact sheet indicates that in 2006, fireworks-related fires totaled 32,600 including 1700 structure fires, six-hundred vehicle fires, which resulted in six civilian deaths, seventy civilian injuries and thirty-four million-dollars in property damage.
Dr. Seth Foldy, Wisconsin's State Health officer, stated that in 2008, thirteen Wisconsin residents were hospitalized and eighty-two were treated in an emergency room for injuries caused by fireworks.
Foldy noted fireworks are not something the average family should be trying to display, “The safest way to prevent these injuries is to leave fireworks displays to trained professionals.”
Administrator of the state of Wisconsin Division of Trade and Consumer Protection Janet Jenkins noted a figure that may shock many parents pointing out that even innocent seeming sparklers burn at 2000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to cause third degree burns.