Break Point!

Volume 1, Issue 4 View the Archives June, 1998
Break Point's Breezy Summertime Issue
Lighting the Sky with Fireworks - SAFELY!
Barbecuing - A Summertime Ritual
Diving into Pool Safety
Prevention Web Sites of the Month
Next Month in Injury Prevention

Break Point's Breezy Summertime Issue

Kathy O'Day
Loyola University Burn and Shock Trauma Institute, Injury Prevention Program

It's time to put the winter clothes in storage and pull out the swimsuits! Make sure the coals on the barbecue grill are hot and there is plenty of lemonade chilling in he refrigerator. Summertime is practically here. This issue of Break Point will provide you with tips on having fun in the sun safely.

Each month, Break Point focuses on nationally recognized injury prevention issues. This month, we will be targeting some of the summertime activities to help you start the season safely. This issue will deal with: Fireworks Safety, Barbecue Grill Safety, and Swimming Pool Safety. Summertime can be relaxing as well as fun, if the activities are done wisely. Put another hot-dog on the grill and have a great summer.

Break Point is produced by Loyola University, Burn and Shock Trauma Institute Injury Prevention Program. Please call us at (708) 327-2455 with any comments or questions.

Lighting the Sky with Fireworks - SAFELY!

 Fireworks are fascinating and fun. The colorful display of lights in the sky and the sounds they make increase their appeal. Yet, children ages 5-14 are at greatest risk for fireworks related injuries (FWRI). Each year, people suffer burns, loss of eyesight, ruptured eardrums and other injuries along with property damage from the use of fireworks. According the U.S. Product Safety Commission, 7,600 people were treated for FWRI in 1996. That number is down from the 11,313 reported in 1995.

While stricter laws and regulations continue to help make celebrating with fireworks safer, illegal fireworks continue to be a serious problem. Over the past ten years, illegal explosives or homemade fireworks have been responsible for 25-30 % of FWRI. One type of powerful fireworks, more commonly known as M-80's and M-100's are in actuality Federally banned explosives-not fireworks at all! Illinois law does permit the use of sparklers and certain novelty items. Even sparklers can be unsafe. Did you know a sparkler reaches temperatures of 1000 degrees or more? They can ignite clothing and cause serious burns.

 The safest way to enjoy fireworks is at a community sanctioned and licensed event. If fireworks (sparklers and novelty items) will be used, this list of "do's and don'ts" will help the celebration be safe and fun:


  • Keep children away from fireworks. An adult should be in charge of all fireworks activities.
  • Check the area before igniting fireworks to be sure all flammable and combustible materials are removed.
  • Use a "punk" to ignite fireworks. This provides a safer distance between you and the fireworks.
  • Have a fire extinguisher or bucket of water at hand to extinguish any fire.
  • Never ignite fireworks while holding them. Put them down, then ignite them and walk away.
  • Never put fireworks in any container to ignite.
  • Never assume an ignited firework that fails to explode is safe to approach.
  • Never make fireworks at home. Making of an explosive device is a felony and punishable by law.
  • Never let children light the fuse.

Barbecuing - A Summertime Ritual

In the United States last year, more than 6 million people purchased gas grills. While gas grills may be cleaner and more efficient the liquid petroleum (LP) gas or propane that is used to fuel them is highly flammable. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, approximately 40 people, in the United States, are injured in LP fires and explosions associated with the use of gas grills each year.

 The definition of a successful barbecue is not having the food on the table on time. A barbecue is successful only if it is a safe one. Anytime you work with fire; there is always a chance of getting burned. Common sense and planning will help you to prevent these injuries. Take these precautions when lighting your gas grill:

  1. Always read the owner's manual before using your grill. Follow the safety procedures outlined in your manual.
  2. Barbecue grills are designed for outdoor use only! Never operate any grill in an enclosed area. If you do, carbon monoxide may accumulate and be lethal!
  3. Use long handled barbecue utensils to avoid burns and spatters.
  4. Wear clothing that does not have hanging shirttails, frills or apron strings, and use flame retardant mitts when adjusting hot vents.
  5. To put out flare-ups, either raise the grid the food is on or reduce the temperature of the grill. If you must douse the flames with a light spritz of water, first remove the food from the grill.
  6. Use baking soda to control a grease fire and have a fire extinguisher handy.
  7. Never leave a gas grill unattended once lit.
  8. When lighting a gas grill, always keep the lid open to prevent an explosion from gas build-up.

Diving into Pool Safety

Nothing beats splashing into a pool when the weather is warm. Swimming pools should be a source of happy times; yet, the risk of children drowning is ever present. It is estimated that approximately 300 children nationwide under 5 years old drown in residential swimming pools (Consumer Product Safety Commission).

According to the National SAFEKIDS Campaign, for every child who drowns, an additional 4 are hospitalized. For each child hospitalized, an additional 4 are treated in emergency departments. Toddlers are inquisitive they lack a sense of fear and realistic sense of danger. These issues, along with their unpredictability and ability to move quickly, make swimming polls a hazard for young children. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, approximately 75% of children involved in swimming pool submersions or drowning were between the ages of 1 and 3 years. Most victims were being supervised by one or both parents and were last seen in the vicinity of the house just before the incident occurred. Another interesting point is that 77% of children had been missing for 5 minutes or less when they were found. A child can drown in a swimming pool as quickly as it takes to answer the phone. For very young children, drowning can be a silent event, children do not always splash or scream to alert an adult that they are in trouble Here is a list of some of the ways to keep your swimming pool an area of enjoyment for all:

  1. NEVER LEAVE CHILDREN UNSUPERVISED. During social gatherings appoint a "designated watcher" to protect children.
  2. Completely fence the pool- including a gate that locks! The fence should be at least 4 foot high and have an alarm at the gate to signal when anyone is near the pool.
  3. Seconds count in preventing death and disability. Check the pool first if a child is missing.
  4. Do not assume that children are drownproof if they have had swimming lessons.
  5. Do not use flotation devices as substitution for supervision.
  6. Know CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation). All caregivers should know CPR. Keep rescue equipment and emergency numbers poolside.
  7. Remove toys from in and around the pool when it is not in use. Toys attract children to the pool.
  8. Have a telephone poolside to prevent having children unattended in or around the pool.
  9. Remove the steps/ladders from above ground pools when not in use.
Remember- a child can drown in very shallow water- even a few inches. All that it takes is enough water to cover the nose and mouth.

Prevention Web Sites of the Month

American Burn Association
Burn Prevention Foundation
Children's Safety Network
Emergency Medical Services for Children
Fire and Safety Resource Directory
Fire Safety Tutorial
Harborview Medical Center - Childhood Injuries
United States Fire Administration
Consumer Product Safety Commission

Coming Next Month in Injury Prevention

  • Fireworks Safety Month
  • Lead Poison Control Week (7/20-7/26)

The information on the Loyola University Health System (LUHS) Web site is for educational purposes only. It is presented in summary form in order to impart general information relating to certain diseases, ailments, physical conditions and their treatments. The information provided through the LUHS Web site should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease, nor is it a substitute for professional care. Should you have any health-care related questions or suspect you have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.

@1995 - 2001 Loyola University Health System.  All rights reserved.
 Disclaimer | Terms and Conditions | Privacy Policy

Loyola University Medical Center Injury Prevention Program | Loyola University Health System | Email Site Administrator

Home | Transportation | Falls | Home and Leisure Safety | Fire/Burns | Poisons | Fire Arms | Water Safety