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Help Vets, Protect Pets and Kids This 4th of July

woman wrapped in american flag

July 3, 2018 -- As Americans come together to celebrate with food, friends, and fireworks, it’s also important to remember how to stay safe.

Last year saw the highest number of firework-related injuries, says the Consumer Product Safety Commission. There were at least eight reported deaths and an estimated 12,900 injuries. Of those, 8,700 happened in the summer.

Here are some tips on how not to become a statistic.

General Safety

  • Learn and follow all local laws about using fireworks. Read all caution labels and descriptions before lighting fireworks.
  • Make sure to have a responsible adult supervising all firework activities.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol while igniting fireworks. Wear safety goggles, and only light one firework at a time.
  • Do not relight a “dud” firework; it could explode. Instead, wait 20 minutes after you try to light it, and then soak it in a bucket of water.
  • Do not experiment with homemade fireworks.
  • Have a bucket of water and a water hose nearby in case of emergencies.

Veterans

Some veterans may have posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that could be triggered by loud fireworks. Check with your neighbors before you light fireworks in your neighborhood.

  • If you have a neighbor who served in combat, make sure they aren’t surprised. Let them know you plan to set off fireworks.
  • Consider limiting your fireworks use. Maybe cut back out of respect.
  • Start small. Build up to the loudest bangs and pops.
  • Look for yard signs marking houses of military veterans.

Kids

  • Don’t allow children to handle any type of fireworks, such as firecrackers, bottle rockets, or Roman candles.
  • They’re fun, but watch out for sparklers. They can reach up to 1,800 F, which is hot enough to melt gold. If your child is playing with a sparkler, make sure to keep the flame away from clothing and hair.
  • Kids shouldn’t pick up pieces of fireworks after a show. They could still be ignited and could explode.
  • Find fun alternatives for kids, like glow sticks and light-up toys.

 If a child is burned from an errant firework, remove clothes from the burn and run cool -- not cold -- water over the injury. Don't use ice. If the child's eye is injured, it's important not let him or her rub it -- this may cause more damage. Don't try and flush the eye with water. Instead, get immediate medical help. 

 

Pets

More pets run away on the Fourth of July than any other day of the year, according to Sharon Harvey of the Cleveland Animal Protective League.

  • Leave your pets at home. Most pets’ ears are highly sensitive to loud fireworks, and pets may be prone to anxiety and try to run away.
  • Make sure your pet is wearing identification with a phone number on it. Microchipping can also help find your pet if it gets lost.
  • Take your pet on a walk before sunset. Any excess energy could make anxiety worse.
  • Confine your pet to a comfortable place along with a favorite blanket or toy.
  • Drown out the booming fireworks with white noise, such as a loud fan.
  • Veterinarians may prescribe anti-anxiety medications.
WebMD Article Reviewed by Hansa D. Bhargava, MD on July 03, 2018

Sources

Consumer Product Safety Commission: “2017 Fireworks Annual Report.”

National Council on Fireworks Safety: “Recommended Safety Tips.”

Orlando Veterans Affairs Medical Center: “Easing the stress of Fireworks on Combat Veterans.”

KidsHealth: “Fireworks Safety.”

Parents: “Fireworks Safety Rules and Tips for Families.”

Fox Carolina: “More dogs run away on July Fourth than any other day of the year.”

Martha Stewart: “5 Veterinarian Tips on Keeping Your Pet Calm During the Fireworks.”

Children’s Hospital of Atlanta: “Keeping Kids Safe Around Fireworks.”

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