Don't get burned this Independence Day

June 26, 2023
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Don’t let a fireworks accident send you to an emergency department instead of your family cookout this July Fourth.

Texas Health emergency rooms experience the biggest spike in fireworks injuries every July, with smaller spikes around New Year’s Eve.

“The most common injuries we see from fireworks are burn injuries and occasionally eye injuries,” said Joni Belz, B.S.N., R.N., CEN, TCRN, program manager for trauma service at Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital.

In July 2021, the number of firework injuries seen in Texas Health emergency departments doubled those seen in July 2019 from nine to 18. That number dropped to two in July 2022, a possible sign that public safety campaigns are helping.

An estimated 8,500 fireworks-related injuries were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments between June 18, 2021, and July 18, 2021, according to the 2021 Fireworks Annual Report by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Of those fireworks injuries, an estimated 1,500 emergency department-treated injuries were associated with firecrackers and 1,100 with sparklers.

What is the biggest safety advice from doctors?

“Never hold a lighted firework in your hand,” said Anant Patel, D.O. an emergency medicine physician on the medical staff at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth. “Never. Just don’t do it.”

Heat and blast-related injuries can be very dangerous, Patel said, adding that blast-related injuries are caused when people are too close to fireworks or are handling fireworks when they erupt.

“It can cause devastating and even life-threatening injuries,” Patel said. “I have seen countless hand- related injuries where people lose multiple fingers if not their entire hand due to this.”

Patel said he has treated “all-level of burns” from minor to severe from fires started by fireworks or as a result from a blast injury.

“Using fireworks in undesignated areas can start wildfires or cause fires to nearby structures and homes, Patel said. “With any risk of fires, there is risk of burn-related injuries to people who handle the fireworks or are close by.”

Fireworks safety tips

• Never re-light a firework you think is not working on the first try.

• Never use fireworks in an undesignated area.

• Have bucket of water to soak unused fireworks and follow city guidelines for disposal.

• Never handle fireworks while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol.

• Never point or throw fireworks at another person.

Get the word out!

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