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Summer Warnings: Spray Sunscreen and Fireworks Safety

Jul 1, 2015

As families prepare for 4th of July celebrations, federal agencies have issued safety alerts about spray-on sunscreens and fireworks, two items that may figure into weekend plans.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was warned about spray-on sunscreens and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has issued its annual warning about fireworks safety.

According to the FDA, concerns about spray-on sunscreens are twofold. Consumers like the convenience of a spray and they find such products less greasy and quicker to apply. But people may not spray long enough and carefully enough to adequately cover the skin, leaving skin vulnerable to the sun’s rays. The other danger of sprays comes with inhaling aerosolized mineral ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide during application, which can irritate the lungs. Inhaled spray can trigger asthma attacks in vulnerable individuals. The spray can also irritate the eyes.

The FDA advises caution in applying aerosol sunscreens, especially for children, who can easily inhale the spray as a parent applies it. To avoid inhaling the spray, do not spray the face, and to avoid the risk of burns, never use the spray near open flames such as barbecue grills and citronella torches and candles.

For better protection, dermatologists recommend using a lotion sunscreen in combination with protective clothing and hats.

The CPSC has issued its annual list of safety tips for fireworks use. The agency says that in the month around the 4th of July, an average of 230 people visit an emergency room each day with fireworks-related injuries. The most common fireworks injuries are burns, eye injuries and injuries to hands and fingers.

The CPSC offers these safety tips for fireworks use:

  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
  • An adult should always supervise fireworks activities. Sparklers can burn as hot as 2,000 degrees, posing a burn risk to young children who handle them carelessly.
  • Never place any part of the body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
  • Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
  • After fireworks have burned out, douse them with water before discarding to prevent a trash fire.
  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.

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