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Published on June 30, 2015

Use care around fireworks for the holiday

By Janice Early, Lawrence Memorial Hospital

Fireworks were involved in an estimated 10,500 injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments last year, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Misusing fireworks this Fourth of July can quickly turn your summertime into bummer time.

Toni EEmergency physician Toni Reynolds said each year the LMH Emergency Department sees patients with fireworks-related injuries.

Fireworks were involved in an estimated 10,500 injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments last year, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. There were 11 fireworks-related deaths, including four victims who died in house fires caused by fireworks.

Kansas hospitals voluntarily report fireworks injuries to the Office of the State Fire Marshal. Last year 45 percent of hospitals completed the voluntary survey, reporting a total of 158 injuries treated in the state. While no deaths occurred in 2014, there were 10 instances of traumatic amputation, a 100 percent increase over 2013.

Nearly half of the fireworks-related injuries in the state were to individuals younger than 18 years of age, most involving firecrackers, bottle rockets and sparklers.

The parts of the body most often injured were hands and fingers (an estimated 36 percent); head, face, and ears (an estimated 19 percent); eyes (an estimated 19 percent); legs (an estimated 10 percent); and arms (an estimated 5 percent).

Reynolds said the injuries — usually burns, lacerations and abrasions to the hands, face and eyes — don’t happen at professional community fireworks displays, but at home as a result of mishandling privately purchased fireworks. Reynolds says the safest way to celebrate Independence Day is to not use fireworks at all and enjoy a public display.

If you do plan to use fireworks, the National Council on Fireworks Safety offers these tips for a safe holiday:

  • Obey all local laws regarding the use of fireworks.
  • Know your fireworks; read the cautionary labels and performance descriptions before igniting.
  • A responsible adult should supervise all firework activities. Never give fireworks to children.
  • Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Save your alcohol for after the show.
  • Wear safety glasses when shooting fireworks.
  • Light one firework at a time and then quickly move away.
  • Use fireworks in a clear area; away from buildings and vehicles.
  • Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
  • Always have a bucket of water and charged water hose nearby.
  • Never carry fireworks in your pocket or shoot them into metal or glass containers.
  • Do not experiment with homemade fireworks.
  • Dispose of spent fireworks by wetting them down and place in a metal trash can away from any building or combustible materials until the next day.

More about fireworks safety.

Janice Early, MBA, is Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, which is a major sponsor of WellCommons.

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