Our Opinion: Dangerous celebrations

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

For many, celebrating the Fourth of July means fireworks. Often this includes a trip out of state to buy fireworks that are illegal in Iowa.

We do not advocate violating state law, but recognizing the reality of customary practices, we encourage safe practices wherever the fireworks are used. According to Safe Kids Iowa, nationwide more than 4,000 children ages 14 and younger are treated in emergency rooms for injuries involving fireworks every year.

Even sparklers, which are legal in Iowa, pose a risk of serious burns. They should be used with adult supervision and should not be used at all by preschool age children.

As far as explosive fireworks, the danger of permanent injury is much higher.

Brandi Thompson, co-coordinator, Safe Kids Iowa says, "Fireworks are intended for use by adults in open spaces, with plenty of active supervision for every child present."

"Teach your children what to do if their clothing catches on fire - 'stop, drop and roll' - and how to call 911 in an emergency," Thompson adds.

Children ages 5 to 9 are most at risk of injury from fireworks.

Safe Kids Iowa recommends these precautions for using fireworks:

* Light fireworks only on smooth, flat surfaces, and aim them away from buildings, dry leaves, flammable materials and spectators.

* Do not try to relight fireworks that malfunction.

* Do not carry fireworks in your pocket or hold them close to your face.

* Visit www.recalls.gov to make sure the fireworks you are using are not subject to any safety recalls. Do not modify fireworks or use homemade fireworks.

* Keep a phone handy, and know first aid for burns. Also, keep a fire extinguisher nearby and know how to use it.