The Fourth of July means lots of fun with parades, fireworks, campfires, and glow sticks. But what about the hidden dangers that can accompany the fun? Here are a few facts and safety tips, plus fun ideas, as you launch into your holiday activities with family and friends.
Those big, colorful packages of fireworks are so temptingly displayed, so you pick up one or two. What’s the danger? They sell them at the grocery store or on the street, so they must be okay for families, right? While we tend to think nothing will happen as long as we’re careful, accidents do happen.
In a report about 2019 fireworks injuries/fatalities by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:
- An estimated 10,000 injuries from fireworks were treated in emergency rooms
- 7,300 injuries occurred between June 21 and July 21.
- 58% of injuries were burns
- 36% were children younger than 15
- 900 injuries from sparklers
- 800 injuries from firecrackers
- 400 injuries from bottle rockets
- At least seven deaths (data was incomplete).
Choose to only buy the kind of fireworks that are legal in your state. It may seem like fun to cross the border and buy elsewhere, but the risks of injury from high-powered fireworks aren’t worth the temporary thrill. Avoid fireworks in brown paper packaging—they’re often the kind used in professional displays. And if the fireworks you’re buying are able to be launched into the air, they’re not legal and are more dangerous.
Never let children play with or light fireworks —always have a bucket of water or a hose nearby when you light them. Many people hand sparklers to their children without thinking about the dangers, but sparklers are capable of reaching temperatures around 2,000°F — hot enough to melt metals. Carefully supervise children and keep the sparklers away from their faces, clothing, and hair.
Campfires – Marshmallows and Colored Flames
Always check the fire conditions in the area where you want to have a campfire—are campfires allowed? Watch that children don’t get too close or trip and fall in. Are s’mores on the dessert menu? Monitor the toasting of the marshmallows. If a hot, sticky marshmallow comes in contact with the skin, it can leave a nasty burn.
Adults can add some elements for additional fun at the campfire. A handful of powdered coffee creamer tossed into the flames brings small sparkles or sprinkle sugar for tiny sparks. You can buy special crystals to sprinkle on your campfire to make the flames turn color, but commonly used household items include:
- Purple flame (Potassium chloride = water softener salt)
- White flame (Magnesium sulfate = Epsom salt)
- Green/blue flame (Copper chloride = copper wire)
- Orange flame (Sodium chloride = table/sea salt)
- Light-green flame (Borax = laundry product)
Put out your campfire at the end of the evening and make sure the coals are cold to the touch before you leave.
Glow Sticks – Crafty Nighttime Fun
Glow bands, glow sticks, glow necklaces—they all bring smiles to the faces of children. The ingredients are generally non-toxic, but always be aware of the condition of the product and never let a small child chew or suck on a glow product or wear a necklace to bed. Discard it immediately if it begins to leak.
After dark, a fun way to use glow stick gel before it goes dim is to have an adult wear gloves and empty about five or six glow sticks into a bottle of bubble mixture. Cap it, and shake it up. (Glow-in-the-dark paint adds extra glow!) When children blow bubbles, the mixture produces glowing bubbles for about 15–20 minutes after the glow stick had been opened.
If you have a poison-related question regarding glow gel, call the Poison Help line at 1.800.222.1222. The poison expert will give you the advice you need that is fast, free, and confidential. Their advice may include calling 911.
Even though holiday fun is wafting through the air like a warm summer breeze, remember to keep common sense and safety at the forefront of your 4th of July celebration.