Family Friday: Let’s talk firework safety

On this Family Friday I feel my nursing education and emergency department background shining through. As well as everything I learned from my childhood years of watching my dad as a firefighter and paramedic. Today I want to talk about the important stuff we try to ignore this time of year.

Fire and firework safety is often overlooked in an urgent desire to have fun and celebrate. But all too often skipping these reminders can be detrimental and have lasting effects. So today I put my motherly nursing hat on to share some reminders as you prepare to have a blast this weekend!

1. Children should NEVER light fireworks. Until you are older than 21, sometimes 25, you don’t have the cognitive ability to really think of safety over enjoyment and showing off your “skills” for others. There is no clear understanding of when the firework might fail, or when it might be a slow reactor. Also, special awareness is limited in children and teenagers, with the desire to get much closer than ever necessary.

2. Have your kids stay a safe distance from all fireworks! Do not let them run around on the street. Have them sit in their chairs or at a safe distance for watching. Don’t expect your children will automatically know this either. Talk to them, explain that the beauty can also be dangerous, and fireworks are for watching only.

3. Lead by example – don’t tamper with potentially failed fireworks. If the firework isn’t working the way it should, stay away. Simple as can be. And after quite some time, 10 minutes at least, approach after spraying it down and dunk it in a bucket of water where it can remain for the night.

4. Alcohol and fire do not mix! Obviously I cannot convince the world to not drink alcohol on the 4th of July. But, I encourage a safe limit to avoid inebriation. Also, do not put alcohol near fire. It will lead to further explosions that will result in massive burns.

5. Keep a bucket of water available and a hose on and ready. You can even be extra cautious by spraying down your lawn, plants, brush, house, whatever can lead to fire spread should a firework go wrong.

6. Sparklers are not for young children. They do not understand that fire cannot be touched, and cannot understand it has to be let go when too hot to hold.

7. Mortars are not for neighborhoods, nor for people who don’t have training in pyrotechnics. Yes, I realize this is a point of contention, but it is reality. Many injuries come from the misuse of fireworks. Just as many house fires come from those who shoot off mortars in neighborhoods without the proper equipment.

8. Burns need immediate care. If you get burned and there’s a break in your skin, go be seen by a medical professional.

9. Protect yourself and protect your children. If you are unsure about something, don’t do it. If you feel a sense of hesitancy, listen to it.

10. Have fun. Be safe. Make great memories!

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