By Julie Phelan, R.N., M.S., C.S., C.P.H.R.M. Injury Prevention Coordinator, TRACS
The Summertime brings people outside to enjoy the wonderful weather, the great outdoors, fun events and of course we celebrate our country’s birthday, Independence Day. When it comes time to celebrate, make sure you and your loved ones play it safe. According to the Neighborhood Safety Network, it is reported that 243 people on average go to the emergency room every day with firework related injuries in the month around the July 4th holiday. In 2019, 10,000 fireworks related injuries occurred, but during the one-month period from June 21, 2019 to July 21, 2019, there were 7,300 ED treated firework related injuries! Twelve of these were deaths, all males. (Consumer Product Safety Commission 2019)
Firework celebration injuries predominately occurred to those under the age of 44, with the majority being children under the age of 19 at almost 50%. Males were injured more often (66%) compared to female (34%).
Permanent loss of eyesight, hearing or limbs can result from improperly used fireworks. The EYEPROMISE group states the number of eye injuries due to fireworks that were treated in ERs nearly doubled from 2012-2014. Severe burns of the face and hands are common. Home fireworks displays cause thousands of preventable injuries across the United States. Most injuries from fireworks are from improper use, short fuses, defective products, re-lighting of fireworks, erratic flight of fireworks and drinking alcohol while lighting fireworks.
Of those whom sustained injuries, approximately 87% of the victims were treated at a hospital emergency department and then released. An estimated 12 percent of patients were treated and transferred to another hospital, or admitted to the hospital. (Consumer Product Safety Commission)
Think some fireworks are safer than others? Think again, Sparklers lead with the highest amount of injuries to children, followed by firecrackers, roman candles, bottle rockets, novelties, reloadable shells, public display fireworks and homemade fireworks.
Leave it to the pros! Let trained pyrotechnicians light professional grade fireworks, always remain at least 500 feet away from fireworks and respect safety boundaries. Never allow children to play with fireworks. A Sparkler can burn at 2000 degrees Fahrenheit, they can easily ignite clothing and cause third degree burns! Stay alert. Don’t consume alcohol while you or anyone near you is using sparklers or fireworks. If you are handling or observing fireworks, always wear protective gear. Keep a bucket of water nearby for emergencies. Light fireworks outside, one at a time, away from others and buildings then move back quickly. Never re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully. Do not go near or touch unexploded fireworks. Contact local fire or police departments to help remove it. For more firework safety tips- check out www.cpsc.gov/fireworks
If you do become injured by fireworks, seek immediate medical attention. For all burns never touch the burn, use lotions, ointments or creams. Never use adhesive dressings, break blisters or jump into a lake or dirty water this may lead to infection. If anything is lodged in the eye, cover both eyes, call 911. If the object is moving freely in the eye, flush it with sterile water and seek medical attention.
During these festive times, celebrate safely. Leave it to the professionals or use glow sticks, bubbles, noisemakers, silly string and confetti. Don’t let the Ooooo’s and Ahhhh’s turn into Ow’s and Oh no’s.