With Independence Day / July 4th celebrations and parties, many people gather with friends and family to celebrate the holiday. Fireworks are part of this holiday tradition. Unfortunately, personal injuries often times result from the negligent or careless use or firing off of fireworks. Most fireworks are not only illegal, but dangerous – causing 11 deaths in 2006. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) there are nearly 10,000 firework-related injuries per year, most of them occurring between June 15-July 15. Hands are the most commonly injured body parts with the eyes in a close second. The remaining injuries involve the face, head, and ears.
Types of Injuries
Burns are the most common firework-related injury. However, contusions (bruises), lacerations, and foreign objects in the eyes also occur at an alarming high frequency. Bottle rockets are the most common cause of eye injuries, sometimes resulting in the physical loss of the eye and/or blindness. Bystanders – someone who is hit by misfiring fireworks – are usually the most common victims of bottle rockets.
If a serious injury has occurred such as amputations, lacerations, burns that result in blistering, or any injury to the face, eyes or neck, medical intervention / medical care is needed immediately and 9-1-1 should be called.
If a limb is lost, such as a finger, make every effort to retrieve the missing body part so that doctors may be able to reattach the lost limb. Lost limbs that are retrieved should be wrapped in a dry, sterile gauze, placed inside a plastic bag, and placed indirectly on ice. The body party should neither come into direct contact with the ice nor be frozen. The bleeding body part should be covered firmly with a sterile dressing gauze and held firmly until professional help takes place or the bleeding stops.
Eye injuries are much more difficult to determine the severity of the injury. If any object is impaled into a person’s eye, leave the object alone and call 9-1-1 immediately.
Although sparklers are sometimes considered to be the “safe firework” by the public, these objects burn at temperatures over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit and can cause serious burns to a child’s skin. These temperatures can also cause clothes to catch on fire. Burns resulting from sparklers or fire crackers should be treated with cold water to cool the skin. After the cooling process, cover the burn with a dry, clean sheet until medical professionals are available.
Although Fourth of July celebrations are times of fun, parents need to maintain a high level supervision over their children if fireworks are present. Even so called “safe fireworks” such as sparklers are very dangerous. Children have a tendency to underestimate the level of danger presented by fireworks. Therefore, adults need to supervise and regulate firework usage to ensure a child’s safety. To read more on this topic see Firework Safety.