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Fireworks Safety and Attention Deficit Disorder


Impulsivity and inattention are two of the hallmarks of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD/ADHD). When you combine these traits with fireworks, you have an explosive and dangerous combination. Then, factor into this equation the inexperience and feelings of invincibility of childhood and you have a perfect storm for injury.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission released its 2011 Fireworks Annual Report (released June 2012). While the four fireworks deaths that occurred in 2011 were older adult males, fully 26% of the reported injuries were for children who were under 15-years-old. After factoring in the older teens (under 20-years-old), children accounted for 36% of the fireworks injuries that were treated in emergency rooms. Burns comprised more than half of the injuries from fireworks that emergency room personnel saw. About twice as many males (68%) as females (32%) were injured by fireworks.

Here is a breakdown of the parts of the body that were most injured by fireworks in 2012:
41% Hands and fingers
15% Trunks
12% Eyes
19% Face, head, and ears
113% Legs


Leading Causes of Injury-Fireworks Device Type and Estimated Injuries in 2012:
12% Sparklers
24% Firecrackers
9% Reloadable Shells
4% Roman Candles
12% Bottle Rockets
5% Novelties


When making a decision about fireworks use for your child with Attention Deficit Disorder, there are some other relevant issues to consider. Sparklers are one of the most injurious fireworks, perhaps because of their beauty and their innocuous look. They don’t explode, so how harmful are they? Sparklers burn at temperatures far beyond the highest heat that your oven can deliver. Most parents wouldn’t consider having their toddler play near an open oven that’s heated, but many will give the child a sparkler. Since sparklers burn hot enough to melt some metals, sparklers can cause serious burns and might even catch a child’s clothing on fire.

Fireworks are made of chemicals. If a child ingests a firework, they can experience poisoning. "Snakes," often given to younger children, contain barium. If a small child eats them, they need emergency treatment from the Poison Control Center.

Another chemical that is used in fireworks is sulfur dioxide. This chemical is a lung irritant for people with asthma. If your child has asthma and is around fireworks, he could encounter trouble breathing after exposure. You might have to take him to the hospital to stabilize his breathing.

Most eye injuries are caused by bottle rockets. In addition, bottle rockets may be blown by the wind onto neighboring structures. Bottle rockets are notorious for causing eye injuries and 4th of July fires.

What can you do to keep your child safe? Know your child! Will he ingest non-food items? Does he have a history of asthma? If a firework doesn’t go off, will he look down a tube or try to relight it? Would your child or his friends throw or shoot fireworks at each other? If you can answer “yes” to any of these questions, then you need to keep your child away from fireworks.

Here are safety tips adapted from the Consumer Product Safety Commission:
*Before you buy fireworks, make sure that they are legal in your town.
*Have a source of water available to douse spent fireworks. (hose or bucket of water)
*Adult supervision is necessary with fireworks. Young children should not play with or ignite fireworks.
* Shoot fireworks off one at a time and get away from them quickly.
*Never, ever put any part of your body over an ignited firework. DO NOT look down a tube to see if a firework is still lit. NEVER relight a firework.
*Don’t point or throw lit fireworks at people, animals or structures.
*You should not use glass or metal containers to shoot off fireworks.

A complete list of the safety tips can be accessed from the url below.

One of the hardest parts of being a parent is telling your child “No” when all of the other children are doing an exciting activity. When children with ADD/ADHD are having fun and enjoying the day, it is especially difficult. However, when you know that fireworks can cause life-altering changes, why take a chance? In Denmark, where a campaign has been ongoing to educate the public about the danger of fireworks since the mid-1990s, they have reduced their fireworks injuries by 50%. Serious injuries have been reduced by 90%. You can reduce your child’s probability of injury due to fireworks by 100%. Keep him away from fireworks.

Resources retrieved from the worldwide web on June 27, 2012 and July 3, 2013:

Safety Tips from the Consumer Product Safety Commission retrieved July 2, 2013. http://www.cpsc.gov/info/fireworks/

Consumer Product Safety Commission 2011 Fireworks Annual Report (released June 2012). http://www.cpsc.gov/onsafety/2012/06/cpsc-science-fireworks-injuries/

Fireworks injuries in Denmark in the period 1005/1996 to 2006/2007. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18208708
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Content copyright © 2014 by Connie Mistler Davidson. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Connie Mistler Davidson. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Connie Mistler Davidson for details.

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