Newswise — MAYWOOD, Ill. – July 4th is nearing and emergency departments across the state are already beginning to treat patients injured by fireworks.
In 2010, 135 people in Illinois suffered injuries caused by fireworks, according to the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshall. Across the country, seven people died and about 7,000 people were treated in emergency departments for fireworks-related injuries, according to the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control.
“Fireworks are basically explosives and are all capable of causing severe injuries, but even minor injuries can cause significant functional disability when it comes to sight and hand function,” said trauma surgeon Dr. Thomas Esposito or Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Ill.
Fireworks are not toys, Esposito added. Even those that are considered legal are dangerous. They burn at approximately the same temperature as a household match. Also, fireworks can cause burn injuries and ignite clothing if used improperly.
“Even fireworks that are classified as ‘safer,’ such as bottle rockets and sparklers, are responsible for some of the most serious wounds treated by emergency physicians,” said Esposito, who is also a professor of surgery and chief of the Division of Trauma, Surgical Critical Care and Burns in the Department of Surgery, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine in Maywood.
Here are some tips to help keep safe while celebrating Independence Day:
• If you choose to use legal fireworks, carefully read and follow all directions on the packaging.
• Plan safe activities for children. Give them glow-in-the-dark wands and noisemakers as substitutes for sparklers and firecrackers.
• Teach children about the dangers of fireworks and other explosives. Discourage them from trying them and set a good example by never using fireworks yourself.
• If you find explosive substances around your home, call the local fire department’s non-emergency line for disposal guidelines. Do not dispose of them or explode them yourself. Too many unknown factors like age, moisture levels and amount of explosive material make them dangerous and unpredictable.
• Never underestimate the inventiveness of children who sometimes try to concoct homemade devices. Keep potentially hazardous materials like lighter fluid, charcoal lighter and gasoline out of their reach.
• Never approach a firework after it has been lit, even if it appears to have gone out. It is likely to still be excessively hot and it may explode unexpectedly.
• Consider safe alternatives for celebrations. Check the newspapers for community fireworks displays handled by professionals or hold a celebration at home where you can supervise your children’s holiday festivities.
• If an injury occurs, call 911 or the local emergency phone number. Get immediate medical aid from experts who specialize in treating burns and other traumatic injuries.
Loyola University Medical Center trauma and burn physicians are available to discuss the types of fireworks-related injuries they have treated over the years, including loss of sight and hearing, dismemberments, third-degree burns, fractures, lacerations, deaths and permanent scarring. To interview Esposito or other Loyola emergency physicians, call Perry Drake in Media Relations, (708) 216-7940. Cell: (708) 441-7736.
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