Wellness Wednesday: Fireworks Safety

Each July 4th, thousands of people, most often children and teens, are injured while using consumer fireworks. Despite the dangers of fireworks, few people understand the associated risks—devastating burns, other injuries, fires, and even death.

Firework Background - 4th July Independence day celebrationFireworks are no joke. They are not toys and should not be handled by children or even by untrained adults. However, if you (adults) are determined to use fireworks, you must put your safety and the safety of those around you above all else.

Fireworks by the numbers

  • Fireworks were involved in an estimated 11,900 injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments during calendar year 2015
  • An estimated 8,000 fireworks-related injuries were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments during the one-month period between June 19 and July 19, 2015.
  • Children younger than 15 years of age accounted for 26 percent of the estimated 2015 injuries. Forty-two percent of the estimated emergency department-treated, fireworks-related injuries were to individuals younger than 20 years of age. (Note that this means more than half of injuries were to adults over the age of 21!)
  • There were an estimated 1,900 emergency department-treated injuries associated with sparklers and 800 with bottle rockets.

Ignited sparkler with the American flag in the backgroundFollow these safety tips

  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
  • Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don’t realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees—hot enough to melt some metals.
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
  • Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
  • After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.

Fireworks and pets

 

july-4-dog
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More pets go missing on July 4th than any other day of the year. The days surrounding the holiday are the busiest at shelters because many pets get scared of the loud noises and strange burning smells and run off. Also, the additional people at holiday barbecues, leaving open doors and/or gates, can contribute. Even indoor cats who have never run off can go missing.

 

So pay close attention to your pets. Be sure you check all gates and doors throughout the day. Don′t allow your pets near any fireworks, candles or foods they shouldn′t eat. And always have a safe place for them to retreat, away from the noise.

Alternatives to fireworks

4th-of-July-Confetti-PoppersThere are other ways to celebrate the 4th of July. If you don′t have to stay home, enjoy a public display put on by professionals. If you are hosting a party or invited to one, here are some fun, child-friendly ideas:

  • Piñatas … You can purchase or make your own colorful paper-mache piñatas, filled with red, white and blue confetti and candy!
  • Confetti-filled balloons … fill balloons with red, white and blue confetti and let the kids pop them.
  • Glow in the dark toys and bubbles … great for after dark with no worry about fire.
  • Confetti poppers … again, incorporates the red, white and blue colorful display with a popping noise.
  • Noisemakers … always a hit!

Conclusion

Remember, fireworks can be dangerous, causing serious burn and eye injuries. You can help prevent fireworks-related injuries and deaths. By spreading the word and practicing safety at your next holiday barbecues.

Sources: National Council on Fireworks Safety, Consumer Product Safety Commission, National Fire Protection Association, Petfinder, Safe Kids and Protect America.


More Information:

Fireworks Safety Tips [PDF]

Fireworks Fact Sheet [PDF]

4th of July Piñata Balloons

4th of July Flag Balloon Game

DIY Confetti Poppers

 

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Wellness Wednesday: Ergonomics

Ergonomics is the science of designing a person′s environment so that it facilitates the highest level of function. A person′s work environment should fit his or her capabilities as a worker.

Business woman with neck pain sitting at computerGood ergonomics prevent injury and promote health, safety, and comfort for employees.

The use of ergonomics principles can increase worker productivity and quality. Employers can implement a program that includes guidelines for employees to follow, contributes to an efficient work environment, prevents injuries and the development of chronic medical conditions, and helps employees return to work after an injury has occurred.

Occupational therapy practitioners are trained in the structure and function of the human body and the effects of illness and injury. They also can determine how the components of the workplace can facilitate a healthy and efficient environment or one that could cause injury or illness. An occupational therapist can help employers identify hazards that may contribute to on-the-job injury, and determine how it can be eliminated.

What can an occupational therapist do?

  • Identify and eliminate accident and injury risk factors in the workplace, such as actions associated with repetition, force, fixed or awkward postures, poorly designed tool handles, heavy loads, distance, vibration, noise, extreme temperatures, poor lighting, and psychosocial and other occupational stresses.
  • Analyze job functions and job descriptions based on job tasks.
  • Design pre-hire screenings to determine a candidate’s suitability to a particular job.
  • Modify tools and equipment so that they do not enable injury or illness.
  • Provide education and training on injury prevention, workplace health and safety regulations, and managing job-related stress.
  • Determine reasonable accommodations and worksite accessibility that is in compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act.
  • Recommend changes employers can take to minimize injury and accident risk factors.

What can a person do to employ good ergonomics in the workplace?

  • Take a proactive approach to preventing injury in the workplace.
  • Follow guidelines set forth by employers that may prevent injury and illness.
  • Report hazards or poor work conditions or employee behavior that may contribute to illness or injury in the workplace.

Occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants are trained in helping both adults and children with a broad range of physical, developmental, and psychological conditions. Practitioners also help clients and their caregivers with strategies that can prevent injury and secondary complications, and support health and well-being.

Copyright 2004 by the American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc.