Newswise — MAYWOOD, IL – Every Fourth of July weekend, millions gather to enjoy fireworks in cities and towns across the country, but for those who create their own displays, the holiday can be dangerous. "Emergency rooms and burn centers see a significant increase in patients presenting with firework injuries in the month around July 4," said Mark Cichon, DO, chair of emergency medicine at Loyola Medicine. According to Dr. Cichon, eye injuries, hearing issues and finger and hand injuries are the most common.

Firework injuries most often occur during unsanctioned displays and in the days after the Fourth, when children can find unexploded fireworks left behind. Teens and children in their exploring ages, around eight to 13 years old, should be watched closely around fireworks. "Even a split second of contact with a burning sparkler can cause a significant burn," said Josh Carson, MD, director of the Loyola Medicine Burn Center. "A misfired firework can be deadly."

While Loyola Medicine does not condone unsanctioned displays, if people participate, there are a number of safety precautions that can reduce or prevent injuries. Dr. Cichon recommends keeping a sand bucket nearby, placing used sparklers in the bucket and disposing of them a day later. He says gloves and goggles are key to preventing serious injuries, and advises people to keep/have water hoses or fire extinguishers nearby. "If a firework doesn't go off after being lit, do not look down at it. This is basically the equivalent of looking down the barrel of a gun," says Dr. Cichon. "The shortened fuse can still go off, causing the firework to become a projectile into the face and body."

If a traumatic injury is sustained, where fingers or a part of the hand is blown off, attempt to secure the body part, wrap it in gauze and place it in a plastic bag. Place the plastic bag in a container with ice or chilled water and transport the patient to the appropriate facility as quickly as possible. 

Burns sustained from fireworks should be treated carefully, according to Dr. Carson. Any burn larger than the size of your palm or affecting the eyes and face should be treated as quickly as possible by a local burn center.

"The most important first step is to stop the burning process," says Dr. Carson. "Rinse any hot embers from the eyes with sterile water as quickly as possible. Burns on the body should be rinsed under cool water, but not ice water, and only covered with a dry, sterile, nonstick bandage."

The most important thing to remember: if you are injured by fireworks, whether sanctioned or unsanctioned, be honest with health care providers about the nature of your injuries. "We are not law enforcement," says Dr. Cichon. "Our only job is to make sure we properly treat every individual who comes through our emergency room, and we can only do this if we know how injuries were acquired. We always encourage people to go see the numerous sanctioned displays because the last thing they want is to visit the emergency room, and prevention is the best form of medicine."

With one of the busiest burn centers in the Midwest, Loyola Medicine's specialists have vast experience providing medical and surgical treatments for burns and trauma. Loyola's outstanding success rates and multidisciplinary approach are recognized by the American College of Surgeons and the American Burn Association.

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About Loyola Medicine

Loyola Medicine, a member of Trinity Health, is a nationally ranked academic, quaternary care system based in Chicago's western suburbs. The three-hospital system includes Loyola University Medical Center, Gottlieb Memorial HospitalMacNeal Hospital, as well as convenient locations offering primary care, specialty care and immediate care services from more than 1,500 physicians throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. Loyola is a 547-licensed-bed hospital in Maywood that includes the William G. and Mary A. Ryan Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, Illinois's largest burn center, a certified comprehensive stroke center and a children’s hospital. Having delivered compassionate care for over 50 years, Loyola also trains the next generation of caregivers through its academic affiliation with Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine and Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. Established in 1961, Gottlieb is a 247-licensed-bed community hospital in Melrose Park with the Judd A. Weinberg Emergency Department, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research Facility at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center. MacNeal is a 374-licensed-bed teaching hospital in Berwyn with advanced medical, surgical and psychiatric services, acute rehabilitation, an inpatient skilled nursing facility and a 68-bed behavioral health program and community clinics. 

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About Trinity Health

Trinity Health is one of the largest not-for-profit, Catholic health care systems in the nation. It is a family of 115,000 colleagues and nearly 26,000 physicians and clinicians caring for diverse communities across 25 states. Nationally recognized for care and experience, the Trinity Health system includes 88 hospitals, 131 continuing care locations, the second largest PACE program in the country, 125 urgent care locations and many other health and well-being services. Based in Livonia, Michigan, its annual operating revenue is $20.2 billion with $1.2 billion returned to its communities in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. 

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