Have a (Safe) Blast on the Fourth of July!   

With July 4th coming up, parents have been firing off lots of questions about whether or not they should allow their older children to light fireworks, even the smaller types.  Let me see if I can shoot off some information on this topic.

Vermont law only allows the use of sparklers less than 14 inches long with no more than 20 grams of pyrotechnic mixture, keeping them in compliance with Consumer Product Safety Commission regulations.  New York forbids all kinds of fireworks from being used in private, including sparklers and small novelty items.  For larger public displays, permits must be obtained from local authorities like the police and fire department.  That said, it is still possible for adults and older children to get hold of fireworks and shoot them off despite these laws – and that's when the injuries start to occur, with common firework injuries involving the hands, fingers, eyes, head and face.  Every year, almost 10,000 visits to the emergency department are due to fireworks injuries. 

So what do I recommend so these injuries don't occur? 

Hopefully tips like this will blast away any ideas you might have had of lighting your own fireworks and instead encourage you to enjoy the public display in your area.

Lewis First, M.D., is chief of Pediatrics at Vermont Children's Hospital at Fletcher Allen Health Care and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. You can also catch "First with Kids" weekly on WOKO 98.9FM and WPTZ Channel 5, or visit the First with Kids video archives at http://www.FletcherAllen.org/firstwithkids