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Fireworks Safety Tips

Wednesday, Jul 02, 2014

Safety experts urge caution when using fireworks for a reason. Each Fourth of July in the U.S., thousands of people – mostly children and teens – end up in the Emergency Department with fireworks injuries.

Summer is officially here, and that's when emergency medicine physician Brenda Foley, MD starts seeing fireworks-related injuries in Doylestown Hospital's Emergency Department.

Fireworks Stats

Did you know, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission:

  • Firework-related accidents cause more than 11,000 injuries and seven deaths each every year.
  • Children younger than 15 years of age accounted for 31 percent of the estimated 2016 injuries.
  • 39 percent of the estimated emergency department-treated, fireworks-related injuries were to individuals younger than 20 years of age.

Dr. Foley tells us about the very real risk of injury from fireworks, and how to stay safe.

Young people and fireworks

Thousands of people each year, most of them teens and children, are injured using fireworks each year. About 45% of those who suffer fireworks-related injuries are less than 15 years of age. The most commonly injured areas of the body are the hands and fingers, followed by eyes.

Types of injuries from fireworks

The most common type of injury related to fireworks is a burn. However, fireworks can also cause cuts, bruises and even the loss of an arm or leg. Unspent explosive material or residue can be projected into the eyes causing blindness, cataracts or retinal detachment.

"Firecrackers can explode at close range, causing a 'blast' injury to the face and hands in particular," says Dr. Foley.

Don't underestimate the potential danger of sparklers

"Sparklers are an often under appreciated source of injury," says Dr. Foley.

But they shouldn't be. Sparklers reach high temperatures -- up to 1,200 degrees, hot enough to boil water or burn wood -- and can cause up to third degree burns, especially if they unintentionally ignite clothing.

Sparklers are often handled by young children, sometimes on their own, and because of this potential for injury, children should be monitored very closely with sparklers (and all fireworks).

Recommended Safety Tips

  • The safest way to enjoy fireworks is at a professional display.
  • Young children should not be permitted to play with or ignite fireworks.
  • Reinforce with your children essential fire safety tips, such as to "stop/drop/roll" and call 911.
  • If you do decide to light fireworks, make sure that you do it in an area that is open, away from homes/buildings and free from dry grass/leaves.Do not point or aim fireworks at a person, and make sure that people are out of range of the area where fireworks are being lit.
  • Never put fireworks in your pocket.
  • Do not use homemade or illegal fireworks.
  • Light one firework at a time, and back up quickly after lighting.
  • Never re-light or pick up a firework that did not fully ignite.Wait 20 minutes, and then apply water before picking up.
  • Have a bucket of water or a hose nearby.

Bottom line: Go see a fireworks show done by professionals. You'll enjoy the holiday a lot more.

About Emergency Services

When medical emergencies arise, patients of all ages can count on the skilled physicians and specialized nurses of Doylestown Health Emergency Services. Fully equipped with private treatment areas, critical care suites and a designated pediatric/minor acute area, the Emergency department can handle any emergency while offering patients confidentiality and comfort. Dedicated resources for specialized care include the Woodall Chest Pain Center and a certified Stroke Resource Center, as well as affiliations with Jefferson Expert Teleconsulting and Temple MedFlight.

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