Planning to celebrate the 4th of July with fireworks? Whether you’re lighting the fuse on fireworks in your backyard or watching a professionally produced show, there are some simple safety measures you should take, according to an emergency medicine specialist from Baptist Health South Florida.
A new report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which tracks fireworks-related injuries nationwide, highlights the dangers associated with smaller store-bought fireworks.
Around 15,600 people were treated in hospital emergency departments for fireworks-related injuries in 2020, according to CPSC estimates, which is a considerable increase from the roughly 10,000 people treated for such injuries in 2019. Two-thirds of these injuries occurred in the weeks surrounding July 4, from June 21 to July 21.
In addition, at least 18 people died from fireworks-related incidents in 2020, compared to 12 reported in 2019, and the number of serious injuries requiring hospitalization rose from 12% to 21%, according to the CPSC report.
What explains the surprising 50% increase year over year? The CPSC speculates that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many municipalities canceled their public July 4 fireworks that year, possibly prompting consumers to use fireworks themselves. fireworks.
“Fireworks are a delight for people of all ages, but even small, seemingly harmless fireworks can cause serious burns if you’re not careful,” says David Mishkin, MD, emergency medicine specialist at Baptist Health South Florida. “Sparklers, for example, can burn at temperatures up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit — that’s hot enough to melt some metals,” says Dr. Mishkin.
Children and young adults are most prone to injury from fireworks
Firecrackers were the leading source of fireworks-related injuries treated in emergency rooms in 2020 (1,600), the CPSC report continues, followed by sparklers (900). Children and young adults are often victims of improper handling of fireworks. According to the CPSC, half of the injuries reported by sparklers involved children under the age of five.
Young adults aged 20 to 24 saw the largest increase in hospital emergency room visits for fireworks-related injuries, with 17 injuries per 100,000 people in 2020, up from 2.8 per 100,000 people in 2019.
The CPSC report goes even further, revealing that burns were the most common fireworks-related injuries, accounting for 44% of all fireworks-related injuries treated in emergency departments in 2020. The most commonly injured body parts were the hands and fingers (30 percent), followed by the head, face and ears (22 percent). Leg, arm and eye injuries were also common.
The alarming increase in injuries and deaths in recent years is a tragic reminder of how dangerous fireworks are, says Dr Mishkin. “Enjoy professional fireworks from a distance and be extra vigilant when using consumer-type fireworks,” he warns. “Anyone considering the use of consumer fireworks should consult and follow the CPSC’s simple advice for handling them safely.”
Tips for celebrating safely with fireworks
CPSC offers these simple tips for safely handling fireworks this July 4:
• Never let young children play with or light fireworks, including sparklers.
• Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other accident.
• Light the fireworks one by one, then quickly move away from the pyrotechnic device.
• Never attempt to relight or tamper with defective fireworks. Soak them with water and throw them away.
• Never place any part of your body directly over a pyrotechnic device when lighting the fuse.
• Move to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
• Never point or throw fireworks (including sparklers) at anyone.
• After the fireworks have finished burning, to avoid a waste fire, douse the used device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before disposing of the device.
• Make sure fireworks are legal in your area and only buy and light fireworks that are labeled for consumer (non-professional) use.
• Never use fireworks while impaired by alcohol or drugs.
Dr Mishkin says he hopes people enjoy the July 4 holiday safely and responsibly. “We really don’t want to see you in any of our emergency services when you should be home celebrating with your family and friends,” he says.