XENIA — As preparations for the Independence Day holiday weekend get underway, Greene County citizens are being encouraged to add fireworks safety concerns to their list of things to remember.
“If you’re going to let your children have fireworks, they need to be supervised with them, regardless of the age,” Beavercreek Township Fire Department Fire Inspector Bob Treiber said.
Sparklers, which Treiber said can burn at more than 2,000 degrees, can do permanent damage to an eye or serious injury to skin, he said.
“They’re fun, they’re nice to look at, but they’re dangerous,” he said.
In 2014, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission put the number of fireworks-related injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments at 10,500, with an estimated 7,000 of those being treated between June 20 and July 20.
About 10 percent of those emergency department-treated injuries were associated with sparklers. An additional 10 percent were connected with firecrackers.
“I’ve seen a couple very serious accidents in my lifetime where a couple people have lost eyes or have had other serious injuries that have affected them their whole life,” Treiber said. “Those people will tell you that for a few seconds or minutes of fun, it’s not worth it.”
One group in the state is encouraging individuals to put consumer fireworks down altogether. Gary A. Smith, MD, DrPH, president of the Child Injury Prevention Alliance, is a pediatric emergency medicine physician at Nationwide Children’s Hospital-Columbus and is an expert on the damage that consumer fireworks can have on the body, according to a release from Ohio Prevent Blindness.
One case in particular that Smith recalled was that of a 4-year-old girl who was struck by a bottle rocket lit by a family member. When the firework took an unexpected turn, the girl was unable to react quick enough and the rocket struck her in the eye. According to the release, the damage was so severe that the girl sustained permanent vision loss in that eye.
“Unfortunately, this was just one of the many painful and serious injuries to children that I’ve seen related to fireworks over the years,” Smith said in the release. “Our studies show that parental supervision is not enough to prevent consumer fireworks injuries to children – in fact, children who are simply bystanders and not even handling the fireworks are often injured.”
“If you want to see a safe show, go see a professional show,” Treiber said. “Bottom line is fireworks need to be handled very carefully. They’re not toys.”
In Ohio, three classifications of fireworks exist, only one of which can set off by unlicensed individuals: trick and novelty fireworks (sparklers, glow snakes, smoke devices, etc.). Other classifications, which include “consumer fireworks” such as fire crackers and bottle rockets, as well as display or exhibitor fireworks, cannot legally be set off by the average individual.