As families prepare to enjoy 4th of July festivities, federal agencies have issued safety alerts about spray-on sunscreens and fireworks.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued its annual list of tips for safe use of fireworks and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was warned about spray-on sunscreens.
The FDA points out two major concerns about spray-on sunscreens: adequate protection and inhalation danger. Consumers like the convenience of a spray-on product. Spray formulas are less greasy and are easier and quicker to apply. But users may not spray long enough and thoroughly enough for adequate coverage, leaving skin vulnerable to damaging sun rays. The other danger of sprays is that the user may inhale aerosolized mineral ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide during application, which can irritate the lungs. The 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 when using a spray product on a child, who can easily inhale the spray as a parent applies it. Never spray the face. To apply sunscreen to the face, the parent should spray the sunscreen on their own hand and then rub it on the child’s face. To avoid the risk of burns, never spray the product near open flames from a barbecue grill or citronella torches and candles.
Dermatologists recommend using a broad-spectrum lotion sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more, combined with protective clothing and hats.
The CPSC reports that in the month around the 4th of July, an average of 230 people visit an emergency room each day with fireworks-related injuries. More than half the injuries are burns; other common fireworks injuries are eye injuries and injuries to hands and fingers, but some people have been killed in fireworks accidents. Consumers should not purchase fireworks packaged in brown paper. This is often an indication that the fireworks were made for professional displays and they could pose a danger to consumers.
Among the safety tips from the CPSC:
- Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.
- 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 garden hose handy in case of fire.
- Light fireworks one at a time, then quickly move back.
- Never carry fireworks in a pocket.
- Never shoot off fireworks in metal or glass containers.
- After fireworks have burned out, thoroughly douse with water before discarding to prevent a trash fire.