GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - The Fourth of July holiday is known for its celebrations but it can also be one of the most dangerous times of the year due to fireworks, especially for children.
Each year thousands of people are injured by fireworks. In fact, last year, around Independence Day, 5,000 people were treated in emergency rooms due to fireworks injuries. Studies suggest somewhere around 40% of fireworks injuries happen to children under the age of 15.
WZZM 13 recently posted a question on Facebook and it turned into a heated debate on whether or not children should be allowed to play with fireworks. We posed the question to people in different communities to see what they think.
"I don't let them play with anything you have to light yourself. Except for the sparklers b/c they don't do nothing," said Marcus Mosley.
"When I was a kid we used to shoot each other with roman candles and bottle rockets. Yeah. I don't let my kids do stuff like that though," said Antonio Anderson. "I let my kids play with them as long as I am supervising."
Chrissy Vieu's advice is "just don't play with them. It's for adults."
"I will let a kids play with sparklers or poppers. Things you can just throw on the ground. Nothing too dangerous," said Terrence Giles.
"My kids won't play with them unless I am there. But with sparklers and stuff like that we will be around," said Tim Kent. "I wouldn't suggest any parents let their kids play with things that go up in the air."
Mike Meunier advice is to "just keep them back at a safe distance. It is a judgment call. Just keep them 50 feet back or so and tell them about them I guess. What do you tell them? Fireworks are dangerous and should only be lit by adults."
Of course it is illegal for children to buy fireworks. But it seems the majority of people on social media and in the community believes it is fine to let children, especially older ones, to play with some types of fireworks.
Many child safety experts disagree. Sparklers can reach temperatures of 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. That is hot enough to melt gold.
The Michigan State Fire Marshal issued a warning this week cautioning parents to not allow children to play with fireworks.
Dr. Todd Chassee, an emergency room physician with Helen DeVos Children's Hospital says "unfortunately even with good supervision, accidents happen. In our opinion Fireworks and Children just don't mix. And that would be our suggestion to try and keep everyone safe this Fourth of July.
Chassee says common injuries include eye injuries, burns, soft tissue lacerations and the loss of fingers. Many times those injuries are life-long injuries.
It is a personal decision parents need to make for their own families. Experts suggest they balance risks against the benefits.