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The Ohio Affiliate of Prevent Blindness, Ohio Department of Commerce’s Division of State Fire Marshal, Child Injury Prevention Alliance, and the Ohio Eye Care Coalition joined forces at Nationwide Children’s Hospital today to educate Ohioans about the dangers of backyard fireworks.
Ohioans are urged not to use backyard fireworks because of the high fire danger and the risk of personal injury – specifically to young children – and the potential penalty for breaking Ohio’s fireworks law.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Fireworks Annual Report released Tuesday, in 2016 11,100 people were treated in emergency departments for firework-related injuries. An estimated 7,600 fireworks-related injuries, or 68 percent of people treated, occurred during the one-month period surrounding the Fourth of July Holiday.
“Prevent Blindness supports a total ban on backyard fireworks, including sparklers, which are widely available at grocery and department stores,” said Sherry Williams, President & CEO of The Ohio Affiliate of Prevent Blindness. “Unfortunately, more and more states are going the route of legalization with dire consequences; Since 2008, five additional states have legalized discharge of consumer grade fireworks and during that same period of time, serious injuries increased by 60 percent from 2.3 injuries per 100,000 population in 2008 to 3.7 injuries per 100,000 populations in 2015,” added Williams.
Injuries to children under the age of 15 accounted for 31 percent of the estimated firework-related injuries. Young adults 20 to 24 years of age had the highest estimated rate of emergency department-treated fireworks related injuries. The parts of the body most often injured were hands and fingers (an estimated 33 percent); head, face, and ears (an estimated 20 percent); legs (an estimated 18 percent); and eyes (an estimated 9 percent or 1000 eye injuries).
Gary A. Smith, MD, DrPH, president of the Child Injury Prevention Alliance, and a pediatric emergency medicine physician at Nationwide Children’s Hospital-Columbus said, “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. The words that I hear when parents bring their child crying in pain to the emergency department after a firework injury are always the same: ‘Doctor, I can’t believe that this happened to my child. I was standing right there, but it happened so fast that I could not do anything in time to stop it from happening’. These good parents simply believed the myth that these products could be used safely. Do not make that mistake with your family.”
There are three types of fireworks in Ohio, all of which are hazardous: Trick and novelty items such as sparklers and snakes that can be legally sold and used by anyone; exhibitor fireworks which require a license to sell, purchase and use; and consumer class fireworks such as bottle rockets and roman candles, which require a license to sell. Consumer fireworks can be purchased by anyone over the age of 18, but must be removed from the state within a certain timeframe and cannot be legally discharged in Ohio
“The Division of State Fire Marshal encourages all Ohioans to attend public fireworks displays. These displays are hosted by local municipalities and licensed exhibitors,” said Ken Klouda, Fire Prevention Bureau Chief. “Besides being safer and legal, professional fireworks displays are better than any exhibit that could be produced with consumer fireworks.”