Protect Yourself from Fireworks Injuries on July 4

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Fireworks are a popular, yet potentially dangerous, Independence Day tradition. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) wants revelers to enjoy the colors, sounds, and excitement of the upcoming fireworks season—without injury.

American consumers purchased more than 212 million pounds of fireworks in 2011, up from 184.4 million pounds in 2010, according to the American Pyrotechnics Association. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that:

  •  *There were more than 18,700 injuries caused by fireworks in 2012, including 7,332 emergency department visits. 
  •  *36 percent of the estimated emergency department-treated, fireworks-related injuries in 2011 were individuals younger than age 20.
  •  *The parts of the body most often injured were hands and fingers (46 percent of injuries); eyes (17 percent); head, face, and ears (17 percent); and legs (11 percent).
  •  *More than half of the emergency department-treated, fireworks-related injuries were burns.
  •  *There were 1,100 emergency department-treated injuries associated with sparklers and 300 with bottle rockets.

 

"Many people consider consumer fireworks to be harmless fun, when in fact they can be extremely dangerous, especially when used by or near children and adolescents," said Boston orthopaedic surgeon and AAOS spokesperson Tamara Rozental, MD. "If caution is not used, and safety guidelines are not adhered to, fireworks can cause serious injuries to the hands and fingers as well as the eyes."

There are plenty of ways for you to enjoy fireworks this summer without putting yourself or your family at risk:

  •  *Check with your local police department to determine if fireworks can be discharged
    legally in your area.  If so, determine which types are legal.
  •  *Never buy or use illegal fireworks.  Their quality cannot be assured. 
  •  *Only adults should light fireworks.
  •  *Never hold lighted fireworks with your hand or place them near the body.
  •  *Always have water handy in case of a fire, such as a hose hooked to a faucet, or a nearby bucket of water.   
  •  *Read the caution label on packaging before igniting.
  •  *Wear safety eyewear when using fireworks.
  •  *Soak used fireworks in water before discarding.
  •  *Never try to relight a firework.
  •  *If you are injured using fireworks, seek immediate medical attention.
  •  *Never allow young children to play with or go near fireworks, including sparklers. They 
    seem harmless but sparklers can reach temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees.
  •  *Never handle fireworks if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.