Are you planning to celebrate the holiday on the fourth of July with fireworks? Whether you’re lighting a firecracker in the backyard or looking at a professionally made display, there are some simple safety steps you need to take, according to a Baptist Health South Florida emergency medicine specialist.
A new report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which tracks fireworks injuries across the country, highlights the dangers of even the smallest fireworks purchased from the store.
Approximately 15,600 people were treated in hospital emergency departments for fireworks injuries in 2020, the CPSC estimates – well over 10,000 or so were treated for such injuries in 2019. Two-thirds of those injuries occurred in weeks around the fourth of July, from 21 June to 21 July.
In addition, at least 18 people died from fireworks incidents in 2020, compared to 12 reported in 2019, and the number of serious injuries requiring hospitalization jumped from 12 percent to 21 percent, the report said. of the CPSC.
What explains the surprising 50 percent increase from one year to the next? The CPSC speculated that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many municipalities canceled their public fireworks on July 4 of that year, which may have prompted consumers to use the fireworks themselves.
“Fireworks are fun for people of all ages, but even small, seemingly harmless fireworks can cause severe burns if you’re not careful,” said David Mishkin, MD, an emergency medicine specialist at Baptist Health South Florida. “Bengls, 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 susceptible to injury from fireworks
Fireworks were the largest source of emergency fire injuries in 2020 (1600), the CPSC report continued, followed by sparklers (900). Children and young adults are often victims of improper handling of fireworks. According to the CPSC, half of the reported injuries from sparking fires are related to children under the age of five.
Young adults aged 20-24 recorded the largest jump in hospital emergency room visits for fireworks-related injuries, with 17 injuries per 100,000 people in 2020, compared with 2.8 per 100,000 people in 2020. 2019
The CPSC report goes even further, revealing that burns are the most common fireworks-related injury, accounting for 44 percent of all fireworks-related injuries treated in emergency departments in 2020. Parts of the body most hands and fingers are often injured (30 percent), followed by the head, face and ears (22 percent). Injuries to the legs, arms and eyes are also common.
The alarming increase in injuries and deaths in recent years is a tragic reminder of how dangerous fireworks can be, says Dr. Mishkin. “Enjoy professional fireworks from a distance and be especially vigilant when using consumer-type fireworks,” he warns. “Anyone planning to use consumer fireworks should review and follow the CPSC’s simple tips for safe handling.
Tips for a safe celebration with fireworks
CPSC offers these simple tips for safely handling fireworks this fourth of July:
• Never allow young children to play or light fireworks, including sparks.
• Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose on hand in case of fire or other accident.
• Light fireworks one by one, then quickly move away from the fireworks device.
• Never attempt to re-ignite or handle faulty fireworks. Soak them in water and discard.
• Never place a part of your body directly on fireworks when lighting the fuse.
• Move to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
• Never aim or throw fireworks (including sparks) at anyone.
• After the fireworks have finished burning, to prevent the rubbish from burning, water the used appliance with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before disposing of the appliance.
• Make sure fireworks are legal in your area and only buy and release fireworks that are labeled for consumer (non-professional) use.
• Never use fireworks while you have been harmed by alcohol or drugs.
Dr. Mishkin says he hopes people will enjoy the Fourth of July holiday safely and responsibly. “We really don’t want to see you in one of our emergency rooms when you have to be home and celebrate with family and friends,” he says.