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Never Touch a Firework says HOI Hand Surgeon

  • Category: Hand & Wrist
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Joanne Zhang, MD
Never Touch a Firework says HOI Hand Surgeon

Serious Injuries Send 280 People a Day to the ER During Fireworks Season

Every year, July 4th celebrations feature time-honored American traditions, including parades, barbeques, and of course, fireworks. However, fireworks can quickly turn to danger and severe injury, says Dr. Joanne Zhang, a hand surgeon with Hoag Orthopedic Institute in Irvine.

“I’m a hand specialist and surgeon and I would never touch a firework because a person’s hands are just too important to endanger,” said Dr. Zhang. “All fireworks carry the potential risk of serious injury or permanent disability from severe burns, high energy blast injuries, or even an amputation.” Her advice is to forgo the backyard fireworks and instead attend a local professionally presented fireworks show.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, about 280 people a day go to the emergency room with firework-related injuries around the July 4th holiday. The Commission also reported approximately half of all firework-related injuries were burns, with hands and fingers being the most injured, followed by injuries to the eyes, head, face, and ears.

Dr. Zhang added that if you experience a firework injury, head to the nearest emergency room as soon as you can. In the meantime, she said, wrap the injury in a slightly damp clean cloth to keep it moist. “Do not apply ice to an injury, particularly a burn,” she stressed. “Ice may lead to more damage to the traumatized tissue.”

If fireworks are on your family agenda for this July 4th and you’re unable to attend a professional display, here are some tips from the Consumer Product Safety Commission and Dr. Zhang to help you avoid a trip to the emergency room:

  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
  • Avoid buying fireworks packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.
  • Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don’t realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees - hot enough to melt some metals.
  • Never place any part of your 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 or other mishap.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
  • Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
  • After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.

“Most injuries are preventable,” says Dr. Zhang. “With a few simple precautions, you can stay safe this July 4.”